"I think the hardest part of overcoming that sense of inferiority is how we see ourselves, regardless of how others perceive us or whether I have an accent when I speak English," said Trujillo to Voice of America.

Aerospace engineer Diana Trujillo has emerged as a prominent figure in space exploration, playing a fundamental role as a flight director at NASA. In her role, Trujillo leads significant missions in the search for life on Mars, standing out as the first Latina aerospace engineer to direct crewed space flights. In an emotive speech on February 2nd at NASA's Johnson Space Center, Trujillo expressed gratitude for the support received and provided details on the flight program under her leadership, focusing on taking the team to the Moon. In a gesture reflecting her bicultural identity, Trujillo named her team "Somos Flight," combining both languages she commands.

Originally from Cali, Colombia, Trujillo arrived in the United States at 17. Despite linguistic barriers, she dedicated herself to intensive study while working full-time. Her perseverance led her to earn degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida and the University of Maryland.

Trujillo's rise to the position of Director was the result of years of dedication and effort. From the outset, she demonstrated her skills and knowledge in every position she held, excelling not only as an engineer but also as a leader. Furthermore, she dedicated over a year to certification, enhancing her ability to solve problems, lead flight teams, and handle crisis situations. Trujillo became the 108th person to receive flight director certification at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

"I enjoy working with the group, leading the group in the direction we want to go. Additionally, one thing I really like is encountering problems, understanding how we're going to solve the problem, how we're going to deal with a problem. The fact that there are problems for the astronaut is not good, but for the director, it is," she told Voice of America.

During the event at the Johnson Space Center, Diana Trujillo captivated the audience with an inspiring message, reminding them that dreams do come true. As a living example, she herself pursued the dream of working at NASA since childhood and is now a prominent aerospace engineer and flight director.

She enthusiastically presented the "Somos Flight" program, an initiative designed to inspire new generations to pursue their passions in science and technology. Trujillo explained that the word "Somos" reflects the community and the achievements made together to reach where they are. The program adopts the colors of the Colombian flag, symbolizing pride and representation of the Latino community. She emphasized the importance of unity and collaboration in achieving ambitious goals, highlighting that this project is not just a program, but a movement aimed at uniting people from diverse cultures and backgrounds around a shared dream: space exploration.

With a call to action, Trujillo urged the audience to pursue their dreams with determination, effort, and without ever giving up. She emphasized that the future is in everyone's hands and that each person can be part of the history of space exploration. Her speech resonated deeply with the Hispanic community and the world at large, motivating many to pursue their passions in the fields of science and technology.

The Colombian expressed profound gratitude for the support that allowed her to achieve her goals, emphasizing the importance of teamwork when addressing her colleagues.

"My heart swells with pride when I think about the great achievements of this team and what lies ahead. This is the team that will write the next chapter of human history, taking us back to the moon, Mars, and beyond," commented Diana Trujillo in her emotional speech.

In 2017, Trujillo was selected as one of "Los 22 Más," a distinguished list honoring the 22 Colombians who best represent their country internationally. Additionally, in 2021, she was honored with the Cross of Boyacá and appointed Commander of the Order of Boyacá by the President of Colombia, the country's highest recognition for its citizens.

Latinas in Space

Ellen Ochoa, born in Los Angeles, California, on May 10, 1958, to Mexican grandparents, has been a pioneer in this field since the late 1990s. Her journey to the stars began with her passion for science, leading her to earn a Bachelor's degree in Physics in 1980 and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1985. In 1990, NASA selected her as an astronaut, and since then, she has completed four space missions, accumulating over 978 hours in orbit. In 1993, Ellen Ochoa made history as the first Latina woman to travel to space, aboard the Discovery space shuttle. Her mission, STS-56, marked a milestone by deploying the SPARTAN satellite to study the solar corona, inspiring new generations of women and Latinos to pursue their dreams in science and space exploration. After her astronaut career, Ochoa assumed leadership roles within NASA, becoming the eleventh director of the Johnson Space Center in 2013, thus becoming the first Latina to hold such a position of power in this institution.

Serena Auñón-Chancellor, born on April 9, 1976, in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Cuban parents, is another prominent figure in space exploration. Graduated in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and with a Doctorate in Aerospace Medicine from the University of Texas in Galveston, Auñón-Chancellor became a NASA astronaut in 2009. Her participation in Expedition 57 was historic as the first American woman to share a space mission with another astronaut. After 197 days in space, Auñón-Chancellor returned to Earth in December 2018, after a successful mission on the International Space Station.

Katya Echazarreta, a 27-year-old born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and residing in San Diego, has also made her mark in space exploration. Graduated in electrical engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles, Echazarreta became the first woman born in Mexico to travel to space on June 4, 2022, aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. Her achievement has been an inspiration to new generations in Mexico and Latin America, while advocating for the development of the Mexican space program.

These three Latina women, each in her own way, have challenged the limits of what is possible and have shown that the sky is no longer the limit for the dreams of those aspiring to explore the universe. Their courage, determination, and leadership continue to inspire millions around the world.

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