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During the final year of college, most students can be found stressing out about their final grades and worrying about what the future holds for them after they cross that stage in a cap and gown. Not Tiera Guinn. She’s too busy designing rockets for NASA.

22-year-old Tiera hasn’t even graduated yet, and she’s already landed a job as an engineer among the nation’s most intelligent and inspired scientists.

Tiera Guinn’s Story

Tiera describes her exciting involvement with NASA’s work: “I’m designing for the largest, most powerful rocket ever in history. So it’s really humbling. I design components for the rocket itself and then I analyze them to make sure their structure is sound.”

But what laid the groundwork for her impressive and early career? That would be her mother. Tiera recalls accompanying her mom on trips to the grocery store when she was 6 years old. Her mother would have her clip out coupons, organize them, and tally up all the discounts and taxes while they were shopping- by the time they would reach the checkout, she would have to have an accurate total.

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Around middle school age, she had an epiphany: “One day I saw an airplane, and I thought  ‘Huh, I can design planes. And I’m going to be an aerospace engineer.'” After that realization, every middle school course she took (and beyond) was directed towards that impressive goal.

Tiera even chose to attend a high school an hour away because it offered better education that supported her dream to become an aerospace engineer and eventually, her choices led her to study at MIT, where she currently maintains a 5.0 GPA.

Along the way, she grabbed every opportunity that got her the experience she was looking for, including interning at an aerospace systems design lab in 2013 and completing another internship as a systems engineer with Boeing in 2015.

“You have to look forward to your dream. And you can’t let anybody get in the way of it, no matter how tough it may be, no matter how many tears you might cry. You have to keep pushing. And you have to understand that nothing comes easy. Keeping your eyes on the prize, you can succeed.”

So what does it feel like to succeed?, Tiera says, “I don’t know yet! I’m not at my success point yet. I have a long way to go.” In an exclusive interview with The Hearty Soul, Tiera shared what she’s most looking forward to: “I am 22 years old and I have many other goals ahead of me that I have not yet completed.”

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In addition to her current work and studies, Tiera says ” I plan to start a nonprofit organization, climb Boeing’s corporate ladder, and much more. At this point in my life, I have just begun my path to success.”

Tiera Guin, Hidden Figures, and Girls in Science

If you saw the recent film Hidden Figures,  which is based on the true story of several black women who pioneered the way for both women and racial minorities to excel as lead thinkers in NASA, you might think that Tiera Guinn represents everything those women were fighting for. Tiera herself said in a public interview, “[Hidden Figures] is my favorite movie- it was truly inspirational”.

The themes of the film definitely strike a cord with Tiera as well. She emphasizes, “You should see black women as rocket propulsion engineers, as rocket structural analysis and design and engineers. You should see more women in the CEO positions.”

She also shared with The Hearty Soul, “I am a young woman of color, also known as a “triple minority,” working as a Rocket Structural Design and Analysis Engineer for Boeing on the most powerful rocket in history. I am looking forward to seeing more young women of color in engineering.”

And she has a very good point. Unfortunately, the reality is that women are a minority in many STEM careers (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). Scientists even found that somewhere between age 6 and age 7, girls start to think that boys are naturally smarter than girls– even when their grades prove otherwise.

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Tiera personally understands the real challenges of fighting the limitations many girls and women feel: “As a young woman in the field of aerospace engineering, I am one of very few. Working in a field that has been predominantly male for so many years can be difficult. Unfortunately, society has constructed engineering as a more masculine field and at one point in time, women were not allowed to even consider being an engineer.”

Thankfully, Tiera’s mother did exactly the right thing by challenging her even at a very young age to explore the edges of her abilities and set very high goals for herself. Tiera shared with The Hearty Soul:

“It is tough being a minority because there are many eyes on you. My parents have continuously groomed me to understand that I am capable despite my race, gender and age. My next big step was to believe in myself. Once I truly believed in myself, I did not allow my confidence in my capability to be shaken by the opinions of others.”

Tiera’s Message to Girls

“If you have a dream of being an engineer, go for it. The first step is to believe in yourself. Open the door for yourself to explore your endless potential and then you will achieve your dream. Do not let anyone or anything disrupt your journey to success.”

Here’s to hoping a new generation of girls is empowered like Tiera is!

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