When ELLEN OCHOA was a child, being an astronaut simply wasn’t an option for girls. She didn’t have role models in STEM who looked like her. But that didn’t stop her from climbing the ranks: from engineer to inventor and finally to the stars, making history as the first Latina in space. She didn’t stop there, becoming director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where she transformed its company culture to welcome diverse voices. Through her ground-breaking story, she became a role model for generations of girls and Latinx kids, inspiring them to aim high and speaking with authority on technology, innovation and sparking change in STEM fields.
Ellen Ochoa—inventor, astronaut and space center director—is a pioneer like no other. She made history as the first Latina to go to space, blazing a trail for other marginalized kids who dream of the stars. There were few minorities in leadership when she joined NASA—so she changed that, becoming the first Latinx and second female director of the Johnson Space Center. Despite her many accomplishments, Ellen says the biggest role she’s played is in mentoring and advocating for the next generation: “astronauts, scholars, who will go on to accomplish more than we can imagine.” In her evocative talks, she draws from her wealth of experiences, both in space and on the ground, to empower audiences to break barriers and overcome adversity.