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Women Making History: Katya Echazarreta

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SJSU chapter.

Children are often asked who they want to be when they grow up. A doctor? An actor? An astronaut? These dreams are influenced by our life experiences and most importantly the people in our lives. The strength and desire to pursue goals derive from the stories of those who paved the way, such as our parents, siblings, or other influential figures. 

As we continue through March, it is essential to highlight the accomplishments women have made to not only inspire today’s youth, but also the generations to come. 

Most recently, Katya Echazarreta became the first Mexican-born woman to go to space. 

Her origin story is similar to many first-generation families, who left their hometowns in search of better opportunities. Echazarreta came to the US at the age of eight, traveling from Guadalajara, Mexico. The trailblazer often credits her mother for her perseverance and goal-orientated characteristics and acknowledges the efforts made to support her and her dreams. It takes a village- especially when the odds are stacked against you.  

When discussing the biggest challenge she faced in an interview with Vogue Mexico, Echazarreta responded by stating “the most difficult thing is something that [I] cannot control”, which was her gender and ethnicity.  

Being a woman in a male-dominated field makes it extremely competitive and can be nerve-wracking working under such pressures. Nearly 60 years ago, Valentina Tereshkova, became the first woman to fly in space. She was selected out of a group of five women and was chosen due to her previous experience as a skydiver and her personal connections to the military. About 40 years ago, 20 years after Tereshkova, Sally Ride became America’s first woman in space. Ride’s selection was sparked by a newly invested effort to include women and people of color in NASA’s space exploration program. 

Since then, there has been a gradual increase in the inclusion of people with various backgrounds in space exploration. There is still a disproportion of identities outside of the established norm, but with the addition of Echazarreta, younger individuals will feel empowered seeing someone with similar features and life experiences. 

There is an ongoing intense political discourse surrounding immigrants and their place within the US. While some advocate for these individuals and support programs designed to build opportunities, others disagree and use fear tactics to paint a negative stereotype of the community and its intentions. In the middle of all this, are people who make the most out of their situation and work against negative labels. 

Echazarreta is a perfect example of this, and her achievements inspire others to take similar risks.  Anything is possible if you put your heart and soul into it. 

There are still more “firsts” to come, and chances for women to make history. 

Let us know how Echazarreta inspires you to make a difference @HerCampusSJSU

Hello fellow HC members! My name is Samantha (Sammy or Sam is fine), and I am a fourth-year, Recreational Therapy Major. I love reading, anime, and news articles covering current events.