AUSTIN (KXAN) — Amanda Maes wants to take her love of space and interest in helping others to new heights.
Maes, an Austin-area college student, finished her second mission in the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program last week. The multi-mission program teaches about careers in NASA with mentors and goals along the way — including a simulation to the moon in the second mission.
“Growing up, I always thought, you know, I would love to have an opportunity to at least learn from NASA — at least work in a team there,” she said. “But here I am doing it and just thinking about that. It’s just mind-blowing.”
Maes is dual enrolled at Austin Community College and Texas State University studying biology and microbiology with plans to enroll in physician assistant school.
Her interest in space and science has been lifelong, but Maes said a focus on human health came from a recent diagnosis. When she was 18, she was diagnosed with a chronic illness, which took her away from school.
“That really gave me a passion and empathy and a sort of resilience to want to help others,” she said.
She said this experience shifted her path slightly to want to study aerospace and the medical world. During the program, she created an infographic about 3D tissue chips that allow astronauts to test their blood cells and see how their kidneys function on certain medications.
Next, Maes is hoping to be picked for the program’s third mission, which is at a NASA space center. She is also looking at NASA-geared internships and aerospace medicine, including healing microbe wounds in space.
Her message to other students with big goals is to chase their dreams.
“If you feel like something is not possible… if you’re growing up, and you have this dream and you’re like ‘I don’t know if it’s possible,’ just know that it is,” she said. “It’s worth chasing even if at some point you fail, you can get back up and you can do it again.”