Million Girls Moonshot
May 22, 2023

Learning From a STEAM Star

Not many young people can say they’ve had lunch with an astronaut. But, as part of a Million Girls Moonshot program, some local youth can now make that claim!

In late 2022, girls in YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago programs such as Community Schools Initiative, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) Club, and Lego Art and Engineering, had the opportunity to meet Katya Echazarreta, the first Mexican-American woman to go to space. Katya is an electrical engineer and — at just 27 years old — was selected from 7,000 applicants to go to travel on Blue Origin NS-21 in June. 

Katya, who decided she would go to space at age seven, is passionate about getting more girls involved in STEAM programming because of her experiences as a minority woman in the field. To share STEAM knowledge and experience, she hosted dozens of girls from the Chicagoland area at a once-in-a-lifetime experience and field trip at the Adler Planetarium in December. Some of the Y’s participants were interviewed by CNN about their interest in science and what it was like to meet Katya!

This opportunity came from a partnership with the Million Girls Moonshot, which has a five-year goal of engaging one million girls in STEAM learning opportunities through afterschool and summer programs. Working to be active in all 50 states, the Moonshot seeks to re-imagine who can engineer, who can build, and who can make. Opportunities such as the meet, greet, and learn with Katya are just part of their efforts to reach youth across the U.S.