by Delainee Rust
Growing up, people often bounce from idea to idea about what they are going to be when they grow up. On the other hand, Alyssa Carson, a freshman from Louisiana majoring in astrobiology, always knew she wanted to go to Mars.
As a kid, Carson was constantly involved in space camps. According to her website, Carson has attended NASA space camps seven times, and she was the youngest person ever to graduate from the Advanced Space Academy. These camps provided her with the opportunity to get involved in programs to help pursue her goal further.
For example, Carson is a part of Project Possum, a private citizen science research organization supported by NASA that conducts upper atmosphere research and provides realistic training for students interested in pursuing a career in space exploration. Programs like this encouraged Carson to help younger kids with similar goals to have the same opportunities as her.
This drive led her to create the Blueberry Foundation. Carson said this group started out small, and eventually grew to what it is today.
“I started the Blueberry Foundation as a way to send more kids to space camp because space camp really helped me in figuring out what I wanted to do,” Carson said.
Attending space camp helped Carson figure out how to achieve her dreams and what area of space she planned to study, an opportunity she wanted to share with other kids. As the foundation has grown, Carson has begun looking for groups of students from other countries to send to space camp.
As a result, the foundation has recently partnered with a group of kids from Mexico City to send them to space camp in the future.
Though these dreams began at such a young age, Carson continues to work towards her goal in school today. Florida Tech is ranked as a tier One university by the National University U.S. News & World Report, making it very popular in its engineering and science programs. One program that caught Carson’s attention, in particular, was the astrobiology program.
According to Florida Tech’s website, it is the first and one of the few universities that have an astrobiology program. This program and the benefit of being on the space coast were among the reasons Carson chose to study at Florida Tech.
To help continue to work toward her goal, Carson said that after she finishes her masters she hopes to continue gaining experience in the astrobiology field and continue working with Project Possum. She remains hopeful that she will one day be selected to go to Mars.
“I just want to be part of the mission and will help contribute in any way I can,” Carson said.