Alena Wicker is a normal 12 year old in all regards except one: the youngster is about to begin her freshman year as a student at Arizona State University.

The Texan is graduated high school this year and will attend classes online at Arizona State beginning in the fall. Her goal is to double major in planetary and astronomical science and chemistry.

Speaking to GOOD MORNING AMERICA, Alena and her mother spoke of the girl’s lifelong dream of working for NASA.

“She would always say ‘Mommy, I’m going to work for NASA,'” mom Daphne McQuarter shared. “Then she would start saying, ‘I’m going to be the youngest Black girl to ever work for NASA — watch.'”

Alena specifically wants to help design a rover that can be sent to explore a distant planet. This interest in engineering began very early on at around age 4, when she would build intricate designs out of Legos.

“She would organize the Legos by color, by size,” McQuarter said. “She was always strategic with her Legos, and if you messed up her Legos, it was a whole problem. If you took one of her Legos out of the little set, she knew that one of her Legos were missing.”

If graduating high school six years early wasn’t impressive enough, Alena also started a website called Brown Stem Girl, which works to encourage girls of color to pursue careers in STEM.

“She said, ‘Mom, I want to create this culture of Brown girls in STEM, because it’s this whole gap, and I just want to do something,'” McQuarter said, adding that her daughter has led the entire initiative on her own.

The tween also has plans of writing a children’s book titled “Brainiac World,” in hopes that other gifted children will embrace their talents and develop them to their fullest.

“All my life, people are trying to hold me down because of my age,” she said. “We’re in a new year, in a new season, and no one can hold us down anymore. So you can keep your feet on the ground, but you can continue to reach for the stars.”

Despite her extraordinary intellect, Alena is still a 12 year old girl who enjoys hanging out with her friends and shopping at the mall. But she is looking forward to what the future holds, and excited to make her mark.


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