From Peru to NASA: A story that inspires
March 8, 2022
Women’s History Month is the perfect opportunity to celebrate women in STEM and education. Representation of women – and particularly non-white women -‐ in STEM is crucial to not only fighting gender inequity but also solving our climate crisis. Dr. Irma Aracely Quispe Neira leads as an example for young women around the globe by representing the Latina community, women in STEM, and educators.
Inspired by the Apollo 11 mission in 1969, Dr. Aracely Quispe Neira knew from a very young age that she wanted to pursue a career in the sciences. Coming from a small, Peruvian town, Quispe-Neira knew that pursuing a degree in Astronautical Engineering would be challenging. Not only was college expensive, but many Latina cultures believe women shouldn’t pursue degrees in science.
Still determined, Irma was able to use her skills in karate to obtain a scholarship at local universities in Peru, where she earned her first degrees in Computer Science and Systems Engineering. Eventually Aracely enrolled in a graduate school program at Capitol Technology University. It is here that she was able to pay homage to her home country of Peru through her study on deglaciation in the Peruvian Andes Mountains. Her study, using high resolution satellites, has brought great awareness to issues such as global warming and the social implications deglaciation will have on Peruvians.
To date, Dr. Aracely Quispe Neira holds a total of seven academic degrees focused in Science, Astronautical Engineering, and Systems Engineering. She is currently a leader in Space and Flight Operations at NASA, and became the first Latina woman to command three separate NASA missions; the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and currently the James Webb Space Telescope, launched December 25th, 2021.
Irma is active in promoting STEM education in Latin America, and specifically women in STEM. Her brand, AQN, is focused on inspiring and motivating the young professionals through sharing her story of overcoming economic and cultural barriers. Dr. Aracely Quispe Neira stated, “Everything is possible if you break the paradigm of ‘I can’t’ and transform it into perseverance.”
At EARTHDAY.ORG, we acknowledge the importance of women in STEM. Even moreso, we recognize the crucial role women play as students, educators, and household decision makers in addressing our climate crisis. As part of EARTHDAY.ORG’s Climate and Environmental Literacy Campaign, we attest to the critical need of gender equity in education in order to solve our climate crisis.
Watch Earth Day Live 2021 Women in Leadership: Fighting the climate crisis through climate literacy to learn more about youth empowerment and environmental education, and read more about how women empowerment can solve our climate crisis.
To learn more about Dr. Aracely Quispe Neira, visit her website at www.aracelyquispeneira.com.