Teen astronaut in training pays a visit to Gonzales Primary

Brandie Richardson @B_Lifestyles
Alyssa Carson with Gonzales Primary fourth and fifth grade girls, Principal Jaimee Williams and STEM GEMS founder Alsie Dunbar.

     Students at Gonzales Primary received a special visit last week from one Baton Rouge teen who is training to be one of the first people on Mars. 

     Dubbed the NASA Blueberry, fifteen-year-old Alyssa Carson spoke to fourth and fifth grade girls interested in sciences and math on Jan. 14. 

     Students learned about space and what it takes to be an astronaut, as well as Carson's personal journey to becoming an astronaut, a dream she has had since she was three years old. 

     As part of her requirements to graduate with an International Baccalaureate from the Baton Rouge International School, the teen must complete a “personal project.” She decided as her project to inspire younger children by giving motivational speeches to schools in all 64 parishes. 

     Ascension Parish was the first stop on her scholarly quest, and it just so happened that Gonzales Primary also participates in STEM GEMS, a mentoring program designed to expose girls in elementary and middle school to science, technology, engineering and math.

     “One thing that also is a good thing about [Gonzales Primary] is that it supports STEM. We really wanted to focus on STEM schools because that's also something else we like to promote,” Carson said.

     During the school visits, she will discuss space, but also hopes to get students interested in math and science. One of the most important things she wants to promote to students is focus on their dreams and never give up. 

     “I also like telling [students] to choose a dream and follow it and never let anyone say that you can't accomplish your dream. My dream of going to Mars when I was three, that was a really big dream and one that seemed impossible, but yet I'm still here working towards it. I never gave up on it. I want to just inspire these kids to find that dream and never give up on it.”

     Carson also donated two books to the Gonzales Primary's library, both in which she is featured. She wrote the forward in The Astronaut Instruction Manual, a 68-page inspirational book to prepare children for careers in space, and had a two-page spread, as well as the back cover of Ripley's Believe It or Not!: One Zany Day!

     She has accomplished many things in her years of training, such as becoming the first person to attend all of NASA's world space camps and being the first person to complete the NASA passport program, visiting all of the space agencies centers in the U.S. The teen is working on her scuba diving certification and is about to begin classes for her pilots license.

     All of her training, and future training, has been part of her plan to be on the human mission to Mars when NASA launches in 2033. The mission is a two to three year journey, taking six months to arrive to the Red Planet, up to two years on Mars exploring and researching and another six months back to Earth. If she continues on the path she is on now, she has a very high chance of being one of the first astronauts to ever step foot on Mars.