“This girl will make it to NASA one day,” said Sara Dona’s grandfather as she was growing up. At 18, Sara is well on her way to achieving her dream of being a scientist. A natural-born leader with a passion for science and space, she has always thought about the impossible. This curiosity led her to robotics classes in school. She eventually joined a competitive aerospace program offered by Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) partner Cipsela in Colombia.
Cipsela is one of eight local organizations throughout Latin America that are part of PADF’s STEM Americas program, established with generous support from Boeing to spark the interest of students in science and technology, promote hands-on learning, and give students the skills they need for the 21st century.
Sara says that applying to Cipsela’s STEM program was one of the best decisions she’s ever made. She led a team that participated in Mission Momotus, a project that launched capsules created by students into space. Sara’s team, Alphares, produced a capsule that measured and compared the gravitational speed in the stratosphere. As team captain, she learned to lead brainstorming sessions and work with a group to develop a strong proposal.
Another motivating factor in Sara’s life has been her family’s journey from Venezuela to Colombia. She experienced the discrimination and xenophobia that so many migrant families encounter when searching for a better life in a new country. As doors closed for her family, she became more determined to succeed.
She is making her family and community proud, paving the way for future migrant girls who have big dreams of breaking the mold and pursuing careers in STEM. After finishing college, Sara hopes to obtain a graduate degree from MIT in the United States.
PADF is proud to offer the STEM Americas program, creating opportunities for girls like Sara to reach for the stars.
Published on February 17, 2022.