Victoria’s don’t have capes or swords. Victoria’s heroes are scientists. Franklin Chang-Díaz, Sandra Cauffman, and Elon Musk are the people who inspire this 13-year-old girl from Cartago every day.
The trio of luminaries, with her achievements, teach Victoria that dreams come true. They show her that if she wants to be a NASA astronaut she can achieve it, if she puts all her effort into fulfilling her goal.
Victoria González dreams of the stars, of the infinite universe. The girl wants to become a world-renowned cosmologist and aerospace engineer. She wants to work for NASA, aspires to travel through space and help with her research to make important scientific discoveries.
To achieve this, yes, she knows that she has to study harder. And that is exactly what she is doing. Victoria understands that it is a long road and that to complete it she must go step by step: the first of them is to attend a Space Camp (the NASA educational camp).
Everything has a cost and Victoria is clear about it. That’s why she didn’t wait for the opportunity to attend camp to drop from the sky. She looked for a way to generate income to pay her way to Space Camp, so she started a small business selling bracelets and with the earnings, she is saving to attend.
Her story reached the ears of the Venezuelan jewelry designer Karina Heredia, who wanted to support her in her dream and gave her the rights to sell special bracelets. This is how little by little Victoria is adding to meet her goal.
Space is the limit
Victoria’s passion began about three years ago, when she happened to read a piece of information about NASA and was struck by the work being done in the US space agency.
“I took it as a hobby. I read, researched and learned,” she recalled.
Read more: Space agency in Costa Rica will be a reality
One day, Victoria and her maternal grandmother were talking about space, she was telling her grandmother about what she had learned and that was when she received a great surprise. The grandmother showed the little girl some photos that she kept as a great treasure, they were images of planets taken from space, that NASA had sent to Victoria’s mother when she was at school.
“My mother wanted to be an astronaut and she wrote letters to NASA, they replied with those photos. I loved them so I told my grandmother that if I managed to get into an agency project before I was 15 years old, that she had to give me those photos,” she said.
That was Victoria’s first challenge, which would soon become a life plan.
“The people who inspire me the most are my parents, they are hard workers and they do it to set a good example for us. As a child, one has the responsibility to make parents proud with their actions, that is my first obligation”Victoria González
The little girl, who at that time was in school and practicing ballet, continued to investigate and each time she learned something new she became even more enthusiastic about the secrets of science and the universe.
Soon another push would come for Victoria’s intentions. On May 30 of last year she, like millions in the world, watched on YouTube the launch of the Crew Dragon capsule towards the International Space Station, which was carried out jointly by NASA and SpaceX (Elon Musk’s company).
The excitement for the event was such that Victoria decided that, sooner rather than later, she would be one of the scientists who would work on a project like that.
“After seeing the launch and all the preparation there was to do it, I told my parents of my intensity began to become an astronaut. At first, I felt like they thought it was a stage, but little by little they began to realize that it was not child’s play,” said Victoria.
That intensity soon turned into curiosity and passion. “I began to find out about the necessary requirements to be part of NASA research,” she added.
After thoroughly investigating, Victoria met the Space Camp and decided to be part of them. “I told my dad that I wanted to go to one, but I know they are expensive. So what I proposed to my parents is that I wanted to pay it, I want to feel that if I succeeded it was because I worked hard. I wanted to do it myself,” she said.
After looking at different businesses, Victoria and her family settled on the bracelets. It was a family friend who showed them the product and they liked it so much that they got in touch with the Venezuelan designer who is in the United States.
“We made contact and told Karina about my dream. She felt very identified and from the beginning, she has supported us a lot, so much so that normally those who sell the bracelets have to pay (upfront) for them, but she sent me the first 30 with the option of paying them in a month,” he said.
This is how “Victoria Braceletes” was born, which exclusively distributes the bracelets made by Karina Heredia for Costa Rica.
“The people who inspire me the most are my parents, they are hard workers and they do it to set a good example for us. As a child, you have the responsibility to make your parents proud with your actions, that is my first obligation,” it is with this eloquence that Victoria develops both in her family, in her studies and in the goals she has set proposed.
The girl takes advantage of her time to study rigorously to achieve her dreams. She is a diligent student who is very into math and science.
“Like everything else, there are things that cost a little more, but those are subjects that interest me a lot because they are the bases to fulfill what I want. You have to study them yes or yes to learn. Whenever I am in school, I relate what they teach us to my dream of working at NASA,” she explained.
She also dedicates her free time to studying. Victoria is learning English and also finds time to investigate every day about the Space Camp, which she aspires to attend in 2022, although she also aims to go a second time in 2023.
The camps are divided by age. The one that Victoria would attend next year ranges from 11 to 14 years old and the second between 15 and 18.
“The camp is training, it is a simulation of how astronauts prepare. I am very excited to go because I am interested in space exploration, I want to learn about the stars and planets. I know, because I have faith, that I will go. I feel very capable of achieving it and I am willing to give everything to fulfill that dream,” she added.
In addition to her parents, Victoria takes a good example from her heroes.
“I know that Elon Musk, Franklin Chang, and Sandra Cauffman were one day like me and if they could, I can too. They are a great motivation, I want to be like them and be an example for young people and adults that when you want something with your heart you can achieve it. I know that one day I will meet them,” said Victoria.
Along these lines, Victoria’s first dream has already come true. A few days ago, the Monge company managed to get engineer Sandra Cauffman to talk with the girl through a virtual meeting. That day the little girl had the opportunity to know first-hand the history of Caufman’s challenges to get to NASA.
“It was a blast! I was very happy to speak with doña Sandra. I will never forget that she was the first person from NASA that I was able to speak to in my life. She is a woman that I admire and who has a very great story for her work and the support she received from her mother because between them the two of them fought to get her to where she is and that helps me to value much more what my parents do (for me),” Victoria narrated about her encounter with Cauffman.
“What struck me the most was that she told me to continue fighting for my dream, not to let anyone tell me something negative, and to always seek to fulfill what I am passionate about, that I am the one in charge of making things come true (for me),” Victoria added.
Precisely on this, Victoria commented that in addition to the great support that she has received from her family, many friends, and has also had to face some criticism. However, Victoria affirms that she continues with her eyes fixed on the final goal and that she tries to turn a deaf ear to those who do not believe that she will achieve it.
“It has happened to me that messages from anonymous social media accounts come to criticize me and say negative things. More than one has questioned me why I want to be an astronaut, but what I do is ignore those criticisms because more are the people who want to help. Criticism makes me stronger because those who make those comments are the ones who admire you the most and that motivates me. Rather, what they are doing me is a favor,” she explained.
“A while ago I saw a phrase that said that people forgive you for everything except your success. Now that I am so focused on meeting my goals, many ‘friends’ have drifted away. I keep true friendships, those who are happy about my intentions, who have moved away is because they wanted to,” she added.
Victoria does not deviate from the path to fulfill her goal of being a great NASA scientist, of being able to one day travel through space on a shuttle, and contribute to human history.
The girl who wants to be an astronaut fights with the support of her family to bring the name of Costa Rica, once again, to the top of the cosmos.
Article is translated and adapted from La Nacion Revista Dominical “Victoria, la niña tica que sueña con ser astronauta”. Read the original here (in Spanish).