Abby Harris has a dream. But unlike other 15-year-old girls, Abby's dream has nothing to do with shopping, or boy bands or hanging out with her friends. Abby plans to be the first astronaut on Mars. And she's using the power of social media to make sure that she gets there.
According to Abby's website — aptly named Astronaut Abby — the teen has wanted to be an astronaut since she was 5 years old. She explains more in her post, People Say I'm A Dreamer:
"When you’re that young and you have that big of a dream, most people just ignore you. But I stuck with it. I made plans, I worked hard, and I focused on my goal. As I got older and continued to stay focused on science technology engineering and math (STEM), people in my life (my family, friends, teachers), began to notice and encouraged me to dream big. I had huge aspirations, and was fortunate to have people around me telling me that I could achieve them."
By the time Abby was in the seventh grade, she set up a Twitter account as part of an optional history project she was doing on the International Space Station. She originally wanted to use Twitter to get in touch with NASA employees, but found that it became a great forum for her to write about her dreams, chat with others who are interested in space, and share pictures of projects that she was working on. Her connections on Twitter motivated her to create a website and blog, Astronaut Abby.
Several years ago, Abby bumped into Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano at an airport and talked him into becoming her mentor. As luck would have it, Parmitano was recently chosen to be the flight engineer on a mission to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz-TMA-09M. Liftoff will occur on May 28, and and Parmitano is taking Abby as his VIP guest to the launch in Russia. While he is in space, Abby will serve as Parmitano's Earth liaison, emailing with him daily to learn about his experiences and share them with readers.
Oh, and there's more. In addition to her dream to be the first astronaut to Mars, Abby also wants to ignite kids' interest in STEM careers and inspire kids to follow their dreams. To this end, she's launched a social media campaign to bring the Soyuz launch to kids around the world. She will blog about the mission on her website, tweet about it at #SoyuzAdventure, lead Skype classroom chats with students and teachers across the globe, and visit as many classrooms and school assemblies as she can to get kids talking about space.
Talk about staying on track with her goals! Abby is obviously doing everything she can to make her dream a reality. Want to help her along? You can donate to her cause at Rockethub and visit her website at Astronaut Abby to learn more about this amazing girl with an awesome dream.
Related on MNN: 8 amazing kids who are changing the world