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Inspiring Women in STEM - Lauren-Ann Graham

Lauren-Ann is an inspiring astronaut in the making. She is an inspiration for all girls and is a great reminder that anyone can follow their dreams!

Can you share a little bit about your background?

From an early age, I have dreamed of becoming an astronaut. As I grew up I realized I had a love and passion for understanding how things work which eventually led me to engineering. I have now received a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering and I am working towards a master's degree in mechanical engineering all at the Florida Institute of Technology. During my undergrad years, I became very involved on campus and around my Space Coast community. I was a jet propulsion engineering intern at Larsen Motorsports for 2.5 years and was the manufacturing team lead for my school's NASA Lunarbotics competition team. During my current graduate years, I had my first NASA internship conducting microgravity research at the Kennedy Space Center. Now I am interning at KSC working on the Exploration Ground Systems team that is supporting the Artemis mission.

What inspired your interest in space?

As I explained above, from early on as a child at the age of 5 I have always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I have always been captivated and passionate about space and it is truly something I believe I was born with. My mom actually still has a drawing that I made in kindergarten that says "I want to go to the moon" surrounded by planets and stars.

What's something that fascinates you the most about your field?

The vastness of space and how much is still to be discovered fascinates me. We could spend lifetimes studying the universe and still never even come close to knowing a small fraction of what's out there.

If you could create your ideal Space Team, who's heading into space with you on your first trip?

I am a big NASA nerd and love the history of the first space explorers so in saying that most definitely John Glenn, Sally Ride, and Winston Scott. They all had such incredible integrity at work and at home. Inside and out and they were amazing people and I consider them my heroes.

Who are some STEM leaders that you look up to?

I definitely look up to Charlie Blackwell Thompson because she is NASA's first-ever female launch director. It is amazing to see women making such strides and accomplishments within the space industry. Again, I also look up to astronaut Winston Scott. He is actually on staff at my school and never fails to answer questions, engage students, support the community, and be so kind and humble in all his interactions.

What advice do you have for kids interested in STEM?

Do not be afraid to put yourself out there for opportunities that you don't think you qualify for. You never know what can happen and where any kind of experience can lead to. Believe in yourself always and never be afraid to ask questions. Just because you don't know the answer does not mean you are not intelligent or prepared. Sometimes you just need to learn new information. Lastly, if you don't love what you are working on that's okay. Learn what you do and don't like and keep searching for that perfect fit for you!

Follow along with Lauren-Ann's adventures on Instagram!

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