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Photo Bonnie Prado Pino

Bonnie Prado Pino

Hometown: Quibdó, Chocó, Colombia
Area of Study: Astrodynamics and Space Applications

"I have made it one of my goals to make sure other children with a similar background to mine get exposed to and have the opportunity to explore what a future in a STEM field can offer them. "

Why did you choose Aeronautics and Astronautics?

Ever since I was a kid I was fascinated with space and technological advances. I enjoyed watching sci-fi movies, and was always amazed by NASA milestones. However coming from a small town in the Northwest coast of Colombia where opportunities for people to work in the space industry are almost nonexistent, it was such a big challenge for me to decide to come to the United States and pursue an advance degree in Aerospace. Nonetheless, it was what I always wanted to do, and even though there was no clear path as far as how I was going to be able to achieve my dreams, through very hard work, patience, faith and a group of great mentors, I was able to get to where I am right now, working on my PhD in Astrodynamics under one of the best space researchers out there, prof. Kathleen Howell.

What are your career goals?

My ultimate professional goal has always been to become a scientist and work in the aerospace field, where I can contribute to the advancement of science and technology to the best of my abilities. To me, research represents a constraint, you never know where your ideas might lead you, however it gives you the freedom of discovery, and fills you with pride when you obtain results. So after I obtain my PhD, I would love to join an industry research team where I can work on real space mission applications.

What do you do when you're not studying/in the classroom/doing research?

Apart from academics, I also enjoy being involved with the community, so I have made it one of my goals to make sure other children with a similar background to mine get exposed to and have the opportunity to explore what a future in a STEM filed can offer them. That is the sole goal of the Afro-Latino Experience Organization, ALE, a non-for-profit initiative that I started working on in 2014, where middle school students from disadvantage schools in my hometown get to participate in a STEM summer camp, and get motivated about sciences and technology for the first time. In this order of ideas, I also plan to continue working with ALE after I earn my PhD. 

Check out more Women in Purdue AAE profiles.