Trinidadian Born, NASA Rocket Scientist – That’s Camille Alleyne!

| April 2, 2012

 


Where are you from originally?

I am originally from Trinidad and Tobago

So you’re a NASA Scientist?! Tell us more!

I am an Aerospace Engineer by formal education and have worked in this capacity, managing space projects both at NASA and Department of Defense, for the last 16 years.

I am currently the Assistant Program Scientist for the International Space Station (ISS) and specifically responsible for developing innovative strategies for communicating the benefits and value of the ISS.  I am also responsible for integrating all of the  ISS education projects and activities, globally.

I hold a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering and currently working on my Doctorate in Educational Leadership which I hope to complete in Spring 2013.

What inspired you to literally reach for the stars?

I always had an innate curiosity about space.  I remember at the age of 7, sitting on the trunk of my dad’s car every night, star gazing and engaging in the wonder of space.

I was always fascinated by the vastness and the awe-inspiring nature of space.  Little did I know that those moments were shaping the trajectory of my life.  But there was also the supportive environment I grew up in.  My parents always encouraged me to do what came naturally to me, and what came naturally was building and fixing things – solving problems – finding solutions for complexed problems.

So my innate curiosity and my nurturing environment laid the foundation for me to pursue and succeed at my dreams.  It was in college while studying aeronautical engineering, the day the tragic accident of the Challenger Space Shuttle, I decided that NASA was where I wanted to spend my career and pursue the career of being an astronaut.

Twenty six years later I am at NASA where I have been for 10 years and continuing to live my dreams which are contributing to the advancement of space exploration and making the difference in the lives of all human beings through our exploration of space.

Additionally, in 2003 I was selected as finalist for the Astronaut Selection Program being 1 in 100 out of 4000 applicants that were invited to interview for the job of flying in space.  I have not yet given up on that dream.

You run a charity for young women right? Tell us about that

Yes my non-profit organization is called the Brightest Stars Foundation and is dedicated to the education and empowerment of young women and girls around the world to be future leaders through the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Since 2007 when I founded the organization, we have inspired and empowered countless girls and young women to aspire to pursue careers in STEM.  We continue to work to realize our vision of establishing the Space and Science Academy for Girls in Kenya which will be the first of a global network of specialty high schools that will educate girls in scientific and technological fields.

My intention with my humanitarian work is to give voice to the voiceless young girls around the world through the gift of a quality, challenging education.

The Brightest Stars Logo

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?

Being a woman and a women of color in the field of rocket science and space engineering has been a huge challenge.  Occasionally, I am dismissed solely because of those physical attributes but having a commitment to excellence and a spirit of determination, perseverance and tenacity are the qualities that have help propel me to the heights I have and continue to achieve.

Who’s your role model?

I have several role models starting with my mother, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.  They are all extraordinary human beings who have had a profound love for humanity and a huge commitment to being of service.

So what’s next for Camille Alleyne?

My next goal is to transform the Brightest Stars Foundation into a world-class non-governmental organization that educates the next generation of women scientists, thinkers, innovators, leaders and Nobel Laureates in Science.

Thank you Camille Alleyne!

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