November 2022 - Bound for the Stars! Destiny H., DDC ‘19, Hunter College ’24

November 30, 2022


Bound For The Stars!

Interview with Destiny H., DDC ‘19, Hunter College ’24, Physics Major

I fell in love with astronomy when I was 8 year old: my mother took me to Barnes and Nobles one day, and I came across "The Universe" by Seymour Simon, a Smithsonian Science book for children, full of pictures of stars, planets, and galaxies. I knew right there that I wanted to learn everything about the universe and its billions of galaxies.   

I joined DDC in 7th grade because I needed help in math. I took all the STEM classes and I learned that I could do anything I wanted as long as I put my mind to it and persevere. I am now at Hunter, pursuing a physics major, and I spent last summer at the University of Texas at Austin, Department of Astronomy, for a research internship in astrophysics – the study of the physical and chemical properties of objects in space. And last fall I was at NASA, for a mentoring program for science and engineering students designed to build a highly-qualified talent pool for the agency space exploration. I am bound for the stars!

This 10-week internship at UT Austin was amazing and life-changing. I studied the universe and space travel, I worked with graduate students who mentored me, and I networked with brilliant professors and faculty members. My research project was brown dwarfs, also called failed stars. These celestial objects were discovered in the mid 90’s. Based on their masses, they are between small stars and giant planets like Saturn or Jupiter and they share similarities with both. They cannot produce their own energy, so they just become forever darker and colder. The study of brown dwarfs may help us understand how stars and planets are born. This research project will be covered in December in a science journal under the title “Brown Dwarfs’ Variability Kicks Down the Door to Learn about its Atmosphere,” and I will be listed as co-author with my mentor, Dr. Yifan Zhou, at UT Austin.   

The NASA program I did a year ago was very different but equally fascinating! The research project for my team focused on life on Mars and we had weekly workshops and talks with NASA's scientists, engineers, and technologists about the aerospace industry. This is where I realized that I was very interested in human exploration and astrobiology – the study of origin-of-life and life-beyond-Earth.

I want to be a research scientist at a space agency or a company. I have not selected a University yet, but I want to get my Master’s in Physics or Astronomy. As a Black woman in a STEM field, I find it difficult to find peers with the same background and it is sometimes a challenge to maintain a healthy self-confidence. Fortunately, I have great mentors and I also keep in touch with DDC for career counseling and support for graduate school entrance exams like the GRE (Graduate Record Examination).  I am so grateful for DDC for all the opportunities it is giving me on my journey to the stars![Insert text using Normal heading]

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