Alena Wicker, a 12-year-old prodigy, will begin her college journey this summer by attending Arizona State University where she plans to major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry.
Wicker, who has dreams of becoming a NASA engineer, already completed high school this year through homeschooling.
“I just had a goal I wanted to get to,” said Wicker told ABC News. “I always dreamed of being an engineer because throughout my life I liked the building.”
Wicker’s mom, Daphne McQuarter, says Alena wanted to work for NASA since she was 4 years old.
“She just had a gift for numbers and Legos and science, so I started nurturing that gift,” McQuarter told ABC.
Wicker specifically wants to build rovers like the one sent to Mars in the Perseverance mission, ABC reports.
If Wicker accomplishes her goal of being a NASA engineer at 16 years old, she will be one of the youngest Black people in history to so. In 2007, Brittney Exline of Colorado Springs made history as the youngest African American female to attend an Ivy League school when she attended the University of Pennsylvania. Exline later became the youngest Black engineer at the age of 19.
“I’m just planning it all as I go,” Wicker said. “It doesn’t matter what your age or what you’re planning to do. Go for it, dream, then accomplish it.”