America has long been thought of by many as a melting pot. People from all over the planet gave up everything to immigrate to the United States. Many took that risk because they saw an opportunity here that their homeland did not provide for them and their descendants.
As cliché as it might sound, America is, in fact, the land of opportunity. The following is a brief account of Ellen Ochoa, a Hispanic-American woman who took full advantage of the opportunities available to her.
Ochoa was born in a small Los Angeles hospital on May 10, 1958. As a young girl, Ochoa was obsessed with the concept of space exploration. She graduated from Grossmont High School in 1975 then earned a bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in 1980. Ochoa continued her pursuit of education and attained a doctorate of electrical engineering from Stanford University in 1985.
While being a doctoral student, Ochoa investigated optical systems for performing information processing and is the co-inventor on three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method and a method for noise removal in images.
Ochoa was recruited by NASA in January of 1990 and successfully completed the rigorous and competitive selection process to become a full-fledged astronaut in July 1991. In April 1993, she became the first Hispanic American woman in space. In her years at NASA, Ochoa was a crew member of four space flights, logged more than 978 hours in space, and held integral mission support positions such as payload commander and flight engineer. Ochoa is the current director of the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston.
Ochoa’s life is a living example of the fruits of hard work and determination. Her success is another instance of the United States as a land of opportunity for those who take advantage of it, regardless of nationality or gender.
For more information on Ochoa visit http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/ochoa.html.