Miami, Jan. 28, 2021 – Once again, Miami Dade College (MDC) students from Hialeah Campus have been selected to participate in the prestigious NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars Program (NCAS). Genesis Martinez, Kristina Spalding, and Alberto Niebla were chosen through a nationwide competition. They are currently completing the program, which ends on February 17.
NCAS is a blended-learning experience comprised of a five-week online course and a unique NASA experience. Students get a closer look at NASA’s missions, diverse workforce, and world-class facilities and learn how to develop their talents, interests, and passion to become future STEM professionals. NCAS also encourages them to finish a two-year degree or transfer to a four-year university to pursue a NASA-related field or career.
Last fall, another Hialeah Campus student, Luis Leon, completed a NASA internship at the Ames Research Center located in California’s Silicon Valley.
“We are very proud of these students’ achievement and participation in this great program,” said Hialeah Campus President, Anthony Cruz. “We hope their experience will serve as an inspiration for other students pursuing careers in STEM to follow in their footsteps and that many more take advantage of work study opportunities such as this one.”
Martinez, a single mom and MDC employee, is working towards a bachelor’s degree in data analytics. She fell in love with data after taking a statistics course and hopes to work for NASA in the future. She also wants to inspire single moms to pursue their professional dreams.
“I want to show my son that anything is possible,” Martinez said. “I want to inspire moms. I want to show single moms that there is a place for us in the professional word. I came back ten years later and got a degree with straight A’s.”
Spalding studies cybersecurity and believes in taking chances. That’s in part what motivated her to make a drastic career change from public relations to cybersecurity. She hopes that this internship with NASA will teach her how to solve problems creatively and learn more about her field of study.
“Don’t undersell yourself. Let go of fear. I was in a completely different field; I took the chance, and it is paying off. Take the chance! Time is going to pass anyways, so just do it! Do not limit yourself,” Spalding said.
Niebla, is working towards a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity with a focus in digital forensics. During this internship, he wants to learn how to work as a team to fend off cyber attacks. He credits MDC Technology professor Rodolfo Cruz for introducing him to this growing industry.
“He gave a presentation my freshman year and has been my mentor ever since,” Niebla said.
Professor Cruz has been a driving force encouraging and helping students apply for NASA internships. He serves as the advisor for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers chapter at the Hialeah Campus. He has been recognized with the Advisor Superstar Award from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Region 7, which encompasses Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas.