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Abigail Harrison is a 19 year old young lady from Minneapolis who is passionate about Astronomy and Science. She realised that Science was not very popular among the young generation so she setup a non-profit organisation in 2015 called "The Mars Generation" to keep people interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education and exploring space. This organisation has reached millions of people and keeps on increasing.

...Even though my main interests were space and science, I was also in dance, gymnastics, soccer, the circus, fencing, played instruments and more. This allowed me to develop into a well-rounded person, capable of balancing a long-term goal without burning out...

Curated from: More4kids.info

Her biggest goal, however, might not be changing this world, but exploring another. She wants to be the first astronaut on Mars.

Why Mars instead of another planet?

“Mars is a perfect next step for humanity to take in human space exploration. It is difficult enough to really challenge us, to push us outside of our comfort zone and force us to innovate. However, it is not so difficult as to be impossible,” she said.

While Harrison is making headway these days toward making her dream a reality, it’s a vision that has been years in the making.

How It All Began

Harrison doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t fascinated by space.

“There is no one thing that sparked my interest, but rather a general sense of curiosity and wonder. I have memories as far back as I can remember of looking up at the night sky and knowing that one day I would go to space,” she said. “I didn’t know how or when, but I knew this was what I wanted to do. My first memory of this was around the age of 5.”

Her parents figured her interest in space was a passing whim.

“When I was young, my parents provided me with a lot of opportunities to explore all my interests. But for most of my childhood, my parents didn’t focus on my dream of becoming an astronaut because they figured I would grow out of that. They encouraged my love of space and STEM, but did not focus on my astronaut dreams.”

When Harrison was in her early teen years, her parents began to realize her fascination with space was more than a childhood fantasy. They began taking her aspirations seriously.

But Harrison is glad they didn’t realize before then that space was the end goal for her because she might have missed out on the well-rounded upbringing she had if they were all only focused on one aspect of her interests.

“This meant that I was exposed to a broad variety of experiences and got to live out my childhood without any pressure weighing me down. Even though my main interests were space and science, I was also in dance, gymnastics, soccer, the circus, fencing, played instruments and more. This allowed me to develop into a well-rounded person, capable of balancing a long-term goal without burning out.”

She isn’t the only well-rounded girl in her family though. She has two sisters who have busy, active lives of their own.

“My older sister is 21, and she is already an explorer, having backpacked extensively in Europe, Asia and South America. She is also an activist and a student. It is hard to tell what career field she will end up in, although I am pretty sure she will be working in some capacity to bring equality to all people regardless of gender or ethnicity,” Harrison said.

“My younger sister is only 9 years old, and like many 9 year olds, flips her ambitions every week from vet to superstar to computer programmer,” she said.  

How She Kept Her Interest in STEM in Junior High  

A common complaint among educators is that girls in junior high seem to lose interest in math and science – even if they were showing promise in those subjects up to that point. Harrison never lost her interest, but she knows it’s a phenomenon across the country.

“I think that societally we have this expectation that STEM is not cool and especially is not feminine,” she said. “The stereotype that ‘guys don’t like smart girls’ still exists. This pushes a lot of girls away from STEM subjects.”

Harrison said she avoided ditching her interest in STEM because of the support system she had in place and the goals she had set for herself.

“I had a group of friends who were all extremely bright and interested in STEM, teachers and other mentors in the field, parents who supported my interests, and a digital community of people excited about my dreams,” she said. “I also had a strong sense of self and a guiding passion which kept me from deviating from who I knew I was and what I was capable of.”

Harrison hopes girls will continue to realize that science and math aren’t just for boys.

“If we do not have women actively working in the STEM fields, we are losing out on 50 percent of the talent in our workforce. Anytime someone is left out of the equation, we lose talent,” she said. “It is imperative that we include women and minorities at the table for STEM in order to continue to be the world leaders in innovation.”