A Georgia State University student is headed to a prestigious summer internship at NASA thanks to the help of a few generous strangers.
India Jackson said she was thrilled after learning she’d been accepted into the program at NASA’s field center in Houston, Texas. The problem was, she had no idea how she was going to cover her expenses.
Jackson, a single mom pursuing a Ph.D. in physics, was saddled with the cost of her flight, housing and other living expenses her program typically does not pay for.
“I have to pay for rent in two places now, I have to rent a car, I have food, I have my child,” Jackson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recalling the thoughts racing through her head. “What am I going to do?”
That’s when her cousin Dasha Fuller came up with the idea of launching a GoFundMe campaign to help her raise money. Fuller set an $8,000 goal and in just a matter of days, strangers chipped in $8,510 for Jackson’s internship.
Jackson said the show of generosity totally “caught her off guard.”
“It was amazing and it was overwhelming, and I was just blown away,” she added.
Jackson told that AJC that her program at Georgia State generally doesn’t fund internships, and said NASA’s stipend wouldn’t be enough to support both her and her daughter over the course of the 10-week program.
Thanks to the donations, Jackson and her 12-year-old daughter Jewel can now to fly to Houston, where she’ll be working with the Space Radiation Analysis (SRAG) group at the NASA Johnson Space Flight Center. There, Jackson will help with the analysis of “high intensity radiation events, with the ultimate goal of predicting such events to protect astronauts and equipment in space,” according to GSU.
With the money, Jackson has already paid for her plane tickets and her extended stay in Houston.
“When things have to get done, they have to get done,” she told the newspaper. “I’m just blessed enough to be living in a time where everything is technology-driven, and this GoFundMe account was able to reach people around the world in order to help my cause.”
The Atlanta-area native earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in math from Georgia State. After teaching at a few colleges around metro Atlanta, the 32-year-old decided to pursue her passion for physics and astronomy in the form of a doctoral degree.
Jackson said it’s always been a dream of hers to work for NASA. Her ultimate goal? Space exploration.
“I want to go to the International Space Station” and study using the solar telescope there, said Jackson. “People think I’m crazy. … They think that it’s impossible, but people also thought that it was impossible to do the things that I’ve done thus far.”
While being a single mother and taking classes is no easy task, Jackson is refusing to let it stop her from going to infinity and beyond.