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#STEMStories: Bianca, Founder of SWISE, USA

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do?

My name is Bianca Vasquez. I am a college student, currently an intern for Virgin Orbit, & the founder of an international organization, Society of Women in Space Exploration (SWISE).

2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do?

I always had an interest in space, but never saw it as a career path. I wasn’t very aware of STEM careers until college and even then, felt that it wasn’t for me. I started learning about the new space industry through the internet, became more interested this exciting world, and decided to pursue it.

3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings?

As a founder of an organization, the women involved in our initiative inspire me everyday. They are passionate, motivated, and hard workers. I always want to do my absolute best in order for this organization to grow, be healthy, and benefit everyone involved! As an intern, I am excited to get out of bed every morning knowing I am in such a great position! I get to work on a rocket engine and be around some of the most brilliant people I’ve ever met during a significant time in space exploration.

4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story?

Stress is inevitable, but I try to convert it into positive energy. I remember I am stressed because I have tons of good work to do on my plate. I have wonderful responsibilities. Time management is definitely something I’ve had to learn to master. The better my time is managed, the less stress I have. While the workload is still the same, it’s at least have it organized! Getting things done feels great!

5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this?

I do not have one particular role model- but I do admire a handful of women who are absolutely killing it in their industries! There are certain things about every one of them that I absolutely adore, and I channel those qualities for myself. It’s like putting my favorite things about these women in a blender and creating a smoothie of ultimate awesomeness! I admire Rihanna (a brilliant businesswoman), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (worked her way from the bottom, is incredibly intelligent and strong), & Mae Jemison (courageous and paved the way for women of color in space).

6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time?

I would tell myself to be fearless and unapologetic about who I am, what I know, and my journey. For the longest time, I tried to blend in with the boys so that I would not stand out in STEM. Truth is, as a woman, I will stand out no matter what! Mine as well be yourself! Through fear of being seen as “dumb,” I was afraid of asking questions and being bold. This restricts opportunities for learning and growing. Now, I am not afraid to admit I don’t know something. I ask. I learn.

7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM?

  1. Meet as many people as you can. Network with purpose. Talk to people because you genuinely want to talk to them, people are interesting!
  2. Have friends outside of your industry. While it’s great to have friends who do what you do and understand your world, I found that having friends in other industries (fashion, business, finance, you name it) is incredibly refreshing. Having interests outside of your field is important to keep you well rounded. Learn from others, and let others learn from you!
  3. Ask questions, tons of them! People who are passionate about what they do are usually happy to answer questions. Sometimes ideas or concepts seem very difficult to understand and we spend tons of time trying to understand, when someone can explain it simply and quickly!

8. How do you measure your success?

I measure success by the feelings I get. When I feel excited, motivated, and have butterflies in my stomach- I know something great is happening. When I feel good, I know I am doing well. If I don’t feel great, I know I can work on some things to change it. The goal is to be happy! Successes, both big and small, make me happy! “Failures” and “mistakes” are just opportunities to become better and have that much more success when I figure the problems out.

9. Where can we find out more about your work?

My social media:

Instagram: @PinkRocketship
Twitter: @PinkRocketship

My organization’s website is http://SWISE.org

Instagram: @SWISEofficial
Twitter: @SWISEofficial

Credits to @cherthismoment who took the amazing photo of me in the pink suit. 😍