Sian Proctor becomes first Black woman to pilot spacecraft with SpaceX launch

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Dr. Sian Proctor has made history as the first Black woman to serve as a pilot of a spacecraft when SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Mission launched on Wednesday.

By , The Grio

Dr. Sian Proctor has made history as the first Black woman to serve as a pilot of a spacecraft when SpaceX’s Inspiration4 Mission launched on Wednesday.

Proctor, who is a geoscientist and professor, will be one of four people in the first-ever all-civilian spaceflight, serving as a Mission Pilot on SpaceX’s Inspiration4. She will be the fourth Black woman to travel into space, but will make history as the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft with the three-day trip circling the earth, the New York Times reports.

Proctor, a Guam native, had her interest in space sparked at an early age due to her father himself being an engineer for NASA. As a child, she was labeled as a “tomboy” because of her love for building planes. It was then when she aspired to be a fighter pilot once she grew up.

After receiving her master’s degree in Geology, and her Ph.D. in Science Education, Proctor embarked on her career as a geoscience professor for South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Arizona where she taught for over 20 years. Proctor also serves as Vice President of Education at Star Harbor Space Academy.

Proctor spoke to The Space Channel — a Local Now partner of theGrio — about how vital astronauts are.

“When we think about astronauts, we don’t really think of them as guinea pigs. They are research subjects and so we submit them to all kinds of medical tests and all those things,” Proctor said.

“You can think of the twin studies like how we’re also investigating technologies and so I brought in this drone study and the whole idea is with that suit I was wearing when you go into these moon and Mars simulation you’re acting like you’re on that planet or that body.”

Years of training and various educational space programs have been key in the preparation of the pilot’s journey set for Wednesday. Her training includes the Mars Desert Research Station, Mars mission at HI-SEAS, and a Moon mission in the LunAres Habitat. Proctor was selected as one of NASA’s astronaut finalists in 2009, KJZZ reports.

Mission Inspiration4 was created by high school dropout turned-billionaire, Jared Isaacman, according to the New York Times. He’s the founder of the highly successful payment processing company called Shift4 Payment, and will also be funding this trip.

Click here to read the full article on The Grio.

Dr. Sian Proctor, the First Black Woman to Pilot a Spacecraft, Makes History: “A Phoenix Rising”

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Dr. Sian Proctor, the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft

By , MS. Magazine

On September 15, SpaceX made history, launching the first all-civilian mission into orbit. Three days later—after circumnavigating Earth 47 times at the unfathomable speed of 17,500 miles per hour—the Crew Dragon capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s Space Coast, ushering in a new era of human spaceflight.

Flying at the record-breaking altitude of 367 miles, higher than the International Space Station and Hubble Space Telescope, the Inspiration4 mission was also a giant leap for womankind: Dr. Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old geoscientist, community college professor and artist, became the first Black woman to pilot a spacecraft and the fourth Black American woman to go to space.

Born in Guam, where her father worked at the tracking station during NASA’s Apollo missions, Proctor dreamed of being a fighter pilot. Though she pursued a different life path, she always nurtured her lifelong passion for space exploration.

In 2009, in her late 30s, as her career in science education flourished, a friend convinced Proctor to apply for NASA’s astronaut program. While ultimately unsuccessful, Proctor was a finalist among the 47 applicants selected from 3,500 submissions. Disappointed but undeterred, Proctor spent 21 years as a professor teaching geology, sustainability and planetary science at a community college in Phoenix, Arizona.

In 2013, she served as an analog astronaut—individuals who work in a simulated space environment on Earth—for the first NASA-funded Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission, investigating food strategies for long-duration spaceflight and future missions to Mars. Proctor obtained her pilot’s license at age 36 and has since served as a major in the Civil Air Patrol as the aerospace education officer for its Arizona wing.

From Mae Jemison to Sian Proctor: Representation Matters
In 1992, Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to travel to space, followed by Joan Higginbotham and Stephanie Wilson, who flew on NASA shuttle missions thereafter.

“I received a really lovely note from Mae Jemison congratulating me on the Inspiration4mission,” Proctor said. “To have her, the first Black female astronaut, tell me she was proud of my accomplishment was amazing.”

The day before launch, Proctor received an unforgettable call: Former First Lady Michelle Obama rang to acknowledge her achievement and wish the crew well on their mission.

“You are making history,” Obama said to Proctor and her smiling crewmates.

“That conversation meant everything to me,” Proctor told Ms. “Knowing I was now in a position to inspire millions of people I’ve never met through my story and this experience, I wanted to pay that back to someone who inspires me.”

Click here to read the full article on Ms. Magazine.

Hispanic Heritage Month: Two Latinas are working together to create a pipeline of diversity in STEM

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Young black male college student with black female teacher looking over computer graphic

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, collectively known as STEM make up the fastest-growing and highest paid fields in the U.S. with diverse job opportunities in careers ranging from aerospace engineers, programmer to operations director, yet Latinas only account for 3% of the industry.

Unfortunately, many Latinas are discouraged from pursuing STEM careers and loose interest in these disciplines as early as middle school. This is why early intervention curriculums like the ones provided by XYLO Academy are key to increasing the representation of Latinas in the STEM workforce.

Getting to college is another challenge as underrepresented students face steep costs and challenges to higher education. According to a recent study published in the journal Education Researcher Latino college students drop out of STEM programs at higher rates (37%) that their white peers (27%).

Continual increases in tuition and fees have pushed the cost of college education beyond the means of most minority and underrepresented students. This is why IO Scholarships offers free access to scholarships and financial education so high school, undergraduate and graduate students can find life-changing scholarships where their diverse background is valued.

Despite all the challenges, these two Latinas are working together to fix the leaking pipeline, providing scholarships, and creating STEM curriculums for women of color.

Gabriela Forter
Co-founder XYLO Academy

Gabriela Forter headshot

Born and raised in the California San Joaquin Valley, Gabriela’s first introduction to entrepreneurship was during a course with Professor Rostamian at UCLA in 2015. This class significantly shaped not only her academic interests but also her career path. Gabriela and Professor Rostamian have now launched XYLO Academy to scale this same impact. After spending two and a half years at Deloitte Consulting, Gabriela joined Facebook, focusing on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. She is confident that the most meaningful changes in society will come from advancements in disruptive innovations and seeks to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM. She is committed to increasing diversity in STEM and believes that change starts with education.

“Our goal at XYLO Academy is to educate students on disruptive innovation and inspire them to pursue degrees and careers in STEM and with our partnership with IO Scholarships we are creating a pipeline for these students to have access to the best scholarships in STEM and realize their dreams.”

María Trochimezuk
Founder IO Scholarships

María Trochimezuk headshot

Her determination and hard work paid off as she won grants and scholarships to pay for her entire education. In realizing how time consuming and complicated the process of finding scholarships for STEM diverse students was, María Fernanda created IO Scholarships to make things much easier. She learned first-hand to find, apply for and win scholarships and became an advocate promoting scholarships nationwide.

“IOScholarships was inspired by my own experience as I was very fortunate to access scholarships to attend prestigious universities and realized that more could be done to support minority students especially now as STEM education becomes more important to workforce opportunities,” said María Fernanda Trochimezuk, Founder of IO Scholarships. “IO Scholarships will not only help underrepresented students find scholarships, but level the playing field so all students have the opportunity to achieve their education goals.”

ABOUT XYLO ACADEMY

We are a group of passionate and skilled storytellers. We believe that students everywhere should have the power and ability to access a world-class education. We believe that technology and innovation, especially disruptive innovation, provides unlimited potential for the future. XYLO Academy introduces this space to students in a bold, story-telling format breaking down any barriers that impede equal opportunity to explore, learn and thrive in the 5 disruptive innovation platforms: Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain & Cryptocurrencies, Robotics, Energy Storage and Bio Tech. We have diverse experiences and backgrounds across technology, product innovations and education. We are united in our passion to provide equal access to the study of technology and innovation. Our diversity is our strength, and our mission is our singular focus. XYLO – Unlimited space for learning and opportunity.

ABOUT IO SCHOLARSHIPS

Most of the scholarships featured on the IOScholarships website come directly from corporations and organizations, rather than solely from competitive national pools – thereby maximizing the number of opportunities students have to earn funding for their education. Each month IO Scholarships adds hundreds of new curated scholarships to its database and posts “The Scholarship of the Week” on its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media accounts (@IOScholarships), making it easy to find new scholarship opportunities.

In addition to providing scholarships, IO Scholarships website offers a free scholarship organizer, news articles designed to provide guidance on how to apply for scholarships, and money saving tips. The platform also offers a Career Aptitude Quiz designed to help students identify the degrees and professions that best fit their skills.

For more information about IO Scholarships visit www.ioscholarships.com or for weekly STEM scholarships email maria.fernanda@ioscholarships.com.

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