Despite her young age, Alena Wicker has big dreams.
The 12-year-old Arizona girl recently received her high school diploma and is now gearing up to begin college at Arizona State University, where she plans to pursue degrees in astronomical and planetary sciences and chemistry. The prodigy spoke about her life plans in an interview with KPNX, explaining she intends to work at NASA as an engineer—a dream career that began when she started playing with LEGOs as an infant.
“I always dreamed of being an engineer, because throughout my life I liked building,” she said.
Alena’s mother, Daphne McQuarter, said her prodigy child has been talking about her career aspirations for years.
“At 4 years old, she said, ‘Mommy, I’m going to work for NASA, and I’m going to go up there.’ She would point to the stars,” McQuarter said. “She just had a gift for numbers and LEGOs and science, so I started nurturing that gift.”
If all goes according to plan, Alena will graduate from ASU at the age of 16 and will immediately begin working for NASA. She said she wants to build rovers for exploration missions like Perseverance.
“I’ll be driving one of those future space mobiles by the time I graduate college,” she said, before encouraging others to pursue their dreams. “It doesn’t matter what your age or what you’re planning to do. Go for it, dream, then accomplish it.”