‘Go For It, Dream, Then Accomplish It’: Black Arizona Girl Accepted to College at 12 Plans to Become NASA Engineer

A 12-year-old from Arizona is well on her way to achieving her big dream of becoming a NASA engineer.

At an age when most kids are advancing through middle school, Alena Wicker has graduated high school and been accepted to attend college at Arizona State University.

She told KXXV, “I just had a goal I wanted to get to.”

The prodigy completed her high school courses at home and aced the classes.

Wicker’s mom, Daphne McQuarter, said her daughter has had her sights set on outer space since before kindergarten.

“At 4 years old she said I’m going to work at NASA and I’m going to go up there, she would point to the stars,” CQuarter said. She added that she was intentional about nurturing her daughter’s gift for science, numbers, and Legos.

12-year-old Alena Wicker from Arizona is well on her way to achieving her big dream of becoming a NASA engineer. Photo: ABC7 screenshot.

Wicker plans a double-major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry and graduate by 16, the same age she hopes to land her first job with NASA.

“I’ll be driving one of those future space mobiles by the time I graduate college,” she said. Wicker plans to build rovers like the one sent to Mars in the Perseverance mission.

“It doesn’t matter what your age or what you’re planning to do,” Wicker said. “Go for it, dream, then accomplish it.”

Wicker is working to build her online presence through her Facebook page BrownStemGirl. She plans to launch a podcast documenting her journey.

Last year Atlanta Black Star readers learned the story of another precocious 12-year-old STEM student, Caleb Anderson. This month the Atlanta boy made headlines when he was accepted to one of the top engineering schools in the nation, Georgia Tech, where he will be pursuing a degree in aerospace engineering. Like Wicker, Anderson demonstrated that he was gifted early on. According to his parents, the math whiz was mastering fractions and reading the Constitution at age 2.

“I think there’s a stereotype of young black males, whether it’s sports or music, they wouldn’t have a problem with it, but when it’s intellect, people tend to question it,” his mother Claire Anderson told ABS last year.

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