College student, 12, to major in astronomical science to become NASA engineer

The pre-teen will be virtually attending Arizona State University this May after she graduates high school

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Twelve-year-old Alena Wicker has dreamed of working for NASA since she was a little girl. Now, the extraordinary pre-teen is hoping to get a jumpstart on her dream career by attending college this fall.

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Wicker shared with Good Morning America more on her exciting post-secondary plans. The Texas-bred science whiz will virtually attend Arizona State University this May and revealed plans to double major in astronomical and planetary science and chemistry. 

She decided to pursue engineering versus astronomy due to her love for building things.

“I would love to build a rover to go to space,” Alena shared with GMA. “Ever since I was 4, I loved playing around with different types of Legos.”

NASA
NASA (Credit: NASA)

Her mother, Daphne McQuarter, shared that Alena was inclined to science from a young age, even in hobbies.

“She would always say ‘Mommy, I’m going to work for NASA,'” McQuarter said to GMA. “Then she would start saying, ‘I’m going to be the youngest Black girl to ever work for NASA — watch.'”

She continued, “She would organize the Legos by color, by size. She was always strategic with her Legos, and if you messed up her Legos, it was a whole problem. If you took one of her Legos out of the little set, she knew that one of her Legos were missing.”

Alena has started documenting her journey on Instagram using the handle @TheBrownStemGirl. She also has a website thebrownstemgirl.com, created to “provide an outlet for girls in color in STEM.” The brand aims to “engage, empower and educate” with hopes that girls are “motivated to become all they desire to be in the world.” 

Photo: Alena Wicker with LEGO set Photo: thebrownstemgirl Facebook

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Alena’s mother informed the news outlet that the twelve-year-old came up with the entire business plan for BSG, including finding graphic designers, funding, and public relations. In fact, it was her idea to create the platform after she noticed how few Black and brown girls existed in STEM fields.

“She said, ‘Mom, I want to create this culture of Brown girls in STEM, because it’s this whole gap, and I just want to do something,'” McQuarter admitted. “She actually did all the legwork, not me. I just kind of sat in the background, and I got the fun part of writing the checks.”

“It’s almost time,” she wrote on Instagram sharing a high school graduation portrait. “I did it.”

With her Legos, Alena has recently crafted the Taj Mahal, the Disney castle, the Millennium Falcon, the Apollo 11 rover, and a NASA rocket, according to GMA. She also has a podcast in the works and a children’s book, Brainiac World.

“My podcast is to encourage girls in STEM by bringing other women and girls of STEM to ask and answer questions,” Alena said.

Outside of excelling in science, Alena enjoys mall trips, hanging with friends, singing, and dancing. Her mother did not reveal details but confirmed they have been contacted by NASA.

“She’s like the goofy kid in the family,” McQuarter said. “She’s just Alena to us.”

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