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Sara Aunon inspires high school students

Second Hispanic woman to become a NASA astronaut


Serena Aunon, the second Hispanic woman to become a NASA astronaut, spoke to about 100 Latino high school students Friday to try to spark their interest in science and technology.

Aunon, whose father came to the U.S. from Cuba in 1960 and whose mother was born in Richmond, got a degree in engineering from George Washington University before going to medical school at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where she trained to be a flight surgeon.

Aunon´s audience was made up of high school juniors and seniors from throughout the state attending the four-day Hispanic College Institute at Virginia State University in Chesterfield County.

The annual institute is designed to help students get their first taste of college life while learning how to take the next steps on their educational paths. It´s organized by the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network, a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 and dedicated to creating a network of Hispanics in higher education.

Aunon, who spoke to an assembly and then spent time in classrooms working with students, told the students there is a host of opportunities at NASA. The International Space Station and other projects — including commercial flights into space — make this an exciting time to enter the agency, she said.

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