September 16, 2022

First Mexican-born woman astronaut to be keynote speaker for Hispanic Heritage Month celebration event

pt-katya-echazarre Katya Echazarreta
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The Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging has announced that Katya Echazarreta will give a public talk as part of its annual National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration. The talk, from 6-7 p.m. Sept. 26 in Stewart Center’s Loeb Playhouse, is free and open to the public. 

In June, Echazarreta flew on board Blue Origin’s NS-21, becoming the first Mexican-born female astronaut and youngest American to fly to space. She flew on behalf of Space for Humanity as its first citizen astronaut ambassador.

Echazarreta was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. when she was 7 years old. Adjusting to her new home was difficult at first due to the language barrier, but she became fluent in English within two years.

After high school, she attended a community college before transferring to UCLA, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. During her time at UCLA, she earned an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Eventually, she transitioned to a full-time position as flight engineer and worked on five NASA missions, including Perseverance and Europa Clipper. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering at Johns Hopkins University and has been featured in the Netflix Film Club YouTube series "Netflix IRL."

Throughout her educational journey, she was very conscious about the lack of women in her field and now hopes to be able to help them be better prepared for their experience as women in STEM.

The keynote is part of a series of National Hispanic Heritage Month events organized by Purdue’s Latino Cultural Center, including an exhibit highlighting Latino experiences in Indiana throughout the 20th and 21st centuries and featuring several other speakers.

Register to attend the talk here.

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