Kathleen Bostick, a Spelman College student, was honored by one of her biggest inspirations.
11Alive reports that retired astronaut Joan Higginbotham, the third Black woman to travel to space, presented the STEM student with a prestigious scholarship from the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. The scholarship comes after Bostick shared the plans she created for a manned mission to Mars with NASA’s Langley Research Center.
Just as Higginbotham has been a leading representation for young Black girls and women aspiring to work in the space industry, the college senior hopes to do the same.
“We are not just as capable as everyone else but we are even more than that because we know how to problem solve in a way that no one else does, and I think that… is truly the key to getting us to Mars, getting us anywhere in terms of new inventions, and the future in general,” Bostick said, according to the outlet.
In addition to presenting Bostick with her scholarship, Higginbotham took a moment to share career advice with the young women in attendance at the ceremony.
“I always tell students, or even adults, who are looking to venture into areas – where there’s not many people that look like us or people who have not chartered those path(s), I always say, ‘Have faith in yourself and your abilities,'” Higginbotham said. “Always use your voice as a conduit to speak the truth and to have confidence in what you’re saying.”
Before working with NASA, Higginbotham initially wanted to get an electrical engineering degree and work for IBM, according to her NASA profile. However, she ended up landing an offer from NASA as a payload electrical engineer. Then, after two attempts she became an astronaut. A highlight of Higginbotham’s time as an astronaut was flying on the Space Shuttle Discovery mission STS-116 in 2006.