At just 15 years old, Niurka Leiva dreams of being an aerospace scientist or a neurosurgeon. She is lucky enough to live one of those dreams as part of a group of 14 young women from Peru who are currently training with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States.
“My dream is to be one of the best scientists in aerospace and to be one of the best neurosurgeons to support and give hope to those in need,” Niurka said in an interview. with Peru Reports.
The group of girls aged 9 to 15 come from underprivileged backgrounds and, from May 2 to August 29, will receive STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training from NASA engineers and will also visit Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, where they will put some of their training to the test.
There “She is an astronautThe program “deepens and strengthens women’s empowerment,” said Marcela Cubides Proaños, vice president of the She Is Foundation that created the project in Peru.
“Girls are told that it doesn’t matter what they want to study or their economic situation, because they can be whatever they want,” Cubides Proaños told Peru Reports.
The She Is Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been working in Colombia and Latin America for over six years. Its actions focus on women’s economic development, social innovation and women’s empowerment.
Ms Cubides explained that She Is was created “as a 360 degree economic model where women have the opportunity to grow and can break the cycle of poverty”.
In 2019, the nonprofit organization signed an agreement with NASA to work with girls on developing their STEM skills. In 2021, the foundation organized its first edition of “She is an Astronauta”, inviting 31 young Colombian women to participate.
This time, the girls from Peru will receive training and support from a team of engineers, astronauts and CEOs from allied organizations such as Bancolombia, Grupo Energía Bogotá, Coca Cola, Bavaria, among others.
“This experience is wonderful from minute one,” exclaimed Ms. Cubides, who also explained how, during the final five days of the program, the young women will travel to the Johnson Space Center in Houston to meet engineers and managers. of NASA and discover the construction of rockets. and space survival for astronauts.
The project aims not only to educate young girls in STEM, but also to help fuel a social transformation in Peru and Latin America.
“These girls become agents of change in their communities and come with a new mindset,” says Ms. Cubides.
In addition to training, the program also includes a STEM entrepreneurial project that each participant must create, and the foundation provides training and resources to help young women start their businesses upon their return to Peru.
“When the girls return to their country, we help them carry out their projects. In addition, the girls continue to be part of the foundation and we help them obtain university scholarships,” said Ms. Cubides.
“Dreams can come true and we believe in every program we do. We believe this is the way to generate real social transformation in Latin America, considering women as the nucleus of society and of the family. If we transform a woman, we also transform her environment.
Niurka Leiva seems to fit.
“I will continue to make efforts to show that it doesn’t matter where you come from, because everyone builds their dreams and realizes them. I will be an agent of change in my community and replicate everything I learned when I return,” Niurka ti Peru Reports said.