As a first-generation student, Katya Echazarreta, the first Mexican-born woman to travel to space, is working to help other young, Latine leaders have confidence in themselves and realize their dreams just as she has.
Echazarreta is partnering with McDonald’s for the HACER National Scholarship Program, which is special for her as McDonald’s was one of the first jobs she ever had to support her family. To get the word out, she is going on the HACER Education Tour where she will be a guest speaker at high schools in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and El Paso.
“Reuniting with McDonald’s for the HACER National Scholarship is a very special full-circle moment,” said Echazarreta. “As a former crew member, I learned the importance of connecting with people and rising above challenging situations, valuable life skills that helped shape my approach towards becoming an astronaut.”
During her time on the tour, which is entering its 10th consecutive year, Echazarreta will host educational workshops for students looking to be inspired by hearing how perseverance and passion for learning helped shape her journey toward becoming a NASA electrical engineer.
Katya Echazarreta, who is currently pursuing her master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University, will also hold a series of one-on-one, in-person mentorship sessions with Latine, college-bound students at select McDonald’s restaurants from now through January. High school students nationwide will also get to participate in a virtual mentorship session with Echazarreta on January 25, 2023.
“As a Latina in STEM, I initially didn’t have many people to turn to for advice, especially when it came to education,” she said. “I look forward to meeting students across the country and inviting them to push beyond what they believe are their own limits. After all, I’ve learned the sky is far from the limit.”
Applications to the McDonald’s HACER National Scholarship are open now through February 6, 2023. Students and parents can visit mcdonalds.com/hacer to apply and access additional college resources in English and Spanish.