Kristina Gallegos (2nd Quarter, 2005)

by Josh Barsch on August 20, 2010

2nd Quarter, 2005
Engineering Scholarship Winner
Kristina Gallegos

Kristina is married and a new mother. After graduating from Cal Poly, she plans on pursuing a graduate degree and hopes to work for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA. Her main interest is the building of colonies in space and on the Moon. After finishing college, she also plans to apply for the astronaut program and be the first Hungarian woman in space.

A Portion of Kristina’s Winning Essay:

Kristina Gallegos

As a child, I lived in the countryside of Hungary. My parents farmed most of their lives and unfortunately never had the chance to get an education. I spent my days working in the fields, looking up at the night sky wondering what is out there. I was dreaming of becoming a space research scientist/engineer and an astronaut long before I could understand it. I never would have imagined that one day I would have the chance to realize my dream.

When I moved to the U.S., my whole life changed completely. I started going to school and with the help of many of my professors I realized my dream and potential. The JPLUS (Jet Propulsion Laboratory Undergraduate Scholar) Award that I received in 2003 made me strong in my belief that I can do it. When I was a child nobody told me about the importance of education.


No one told me how important it is to go to school, to believe in oneself and realize one’s dreams. I will be the first person in my entire family to get a college education. I was fortunate to meet my dear physics professor at Fullerton College who encouraged me and made me realize my potential. At the time I was a cashier at a department store. I was surrounded by people who did not believe in me. After all, not many cashiers make it to space. My professor and mentor involved me in the Science Olympiad for high school students. I helped him make up the tasks and organize the event. I had a wonderful time seeing the children enjoying science. He also nominated me for several awards and honors, including the JPLUS and the “Woman of the Year” award. I do not think that I would have achieved my full potential without him.

After receiving my bachelors degree in aerospace engineering, I would like to obtain a masters degree and a PhD at the California Institute of Technology’s School of Aeronautics. During and after my education at Caltech, I would like to work and do research at JPL. I would like to design spacecrafts which would fly to every part of our solar system and beyond. I would also like to be involved with the design of space colonies, whether it be on the moon or floating in space. I am interested mostly in the structural design and durability of such crafts and settlements and also in the transportation to and assembly of these facilities on the moon or in outer space. I will also apply for the astronaut program after getting my PhD. Maybe I can become the first Hungarian American woman in space.

I had to come a long way to realize myself, and I still have a long way to go. But I do not regret a minute of it: my struggles, my achievements, my life. I just wish that everyone would have the chance to realize themselves. That is the reason that I started tutoring high school students in mathematics and science. My goal is to organize after school programs and camps for children for math and science education. I wish to encourage as many people as I can; just as my mentor encouraged me. My deepest belief is that education is necessary for one to realize oneself. I will dedicate my life to advocating the importance of education.

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