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Alexia Kubas
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Alexia Kubas

University of Arizona 

While perusing my planet picture books in kindergarten, a light bulb went off in my head, and I knew that I wanted to be an astronaut one day. For my “100 Days of School” presentation, 5 year old me burst with excitement to create a diorama with 100 stars surrounding a styrofoam Saturn. Since I could toddle on my feet and explore my own surroundings, science has spurred excitement from deep down within me. I’m one of the many young, passionate women who yearn to explore the unknown universe and solve nature’s greatest mystery: “what’s out there?” Why, then, is the scientific community dominated by men? Even at this year’s International Astronautical Congress, one of the topics was the “need to attract more women.” Science needs more leaders, more trailblazers, more women to progress humanity forward. I thirst to make bounds in the world: to help foster a theory to unite General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, to seek out a planet sustainable for life, and to plant my own feet on Mars and beyond. However, my most important ambition is to integrate more women into science and change the prejudices that work to hold us back.

Three summers ago, I went to Space Camp in Alabama, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. What made it even more special to me was that I started my own business to pay for it. During Space Camp, the boy:girl ratio was approximately 5:1, and it was my first time experiencing the inequalities women face in the scientific community. After the first two days of camp, I witnessed one of the counselors scolding the boys. He told them that they needed to be better leaders for “us girls.” Years later, I witnessed this prejudice again in a more subtle form during a special lunch with an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center. As he made his way around the room, he stopped at my family’s table and asked who was the space enthusiast. I raised my hand as my mind surged with questions to ask him about his experience on the International Space Station, but the first thing he said to me was, “I thought you were here for a beauty pageant.” My family chuckled and told me to take it as a compliment, but it rubbed me the wrong way. Society trains us to associate women with beauty before scholarliness but, during my lifetime, I will fight to erase that stigma and inspire women to be unapologetically passionate about their dreams.

The gender imbalance in the scientific community and other professions like politics, another passion of mine, is not due to our lack of skill or knowledge. No, it’s a result of humanity’s flaw to fuel the flame of gender roles which restrain women from reaching their full potential. The role of women in science has grown in the past century alone, but we are no where near the representation we deserve and strive for - especially in Congress. Currently, only 105 women hold seats in Congress - that’s less than 20%. To top it off, there are only three scientists in Congress. I am eager to pursue a career in the sciences and collaborate among men and women, but I am even more proud to add to the number of trailblazing women making waves in a field dominated by men. In order to do so, I will be studying astrophysics at the University of Arizona (Honors College). I also plan on minoring in Political Science. Just imagine… a female scientist in Congress fighting for equality and inspiring other women to do the same with their own ambitions. That is my dream.
 
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