In the vibrant heart of Mexico City, a remarkable 11-year-old prodigy named Adhara Pérez Sánchez has triumphed over numerous challenges that life has presented her with.
Now, she stands on the brink of fulfilling an extraordinary dream: to become an astronaut for the esteemed American space agency, NASA.
Overcoming Early Obstacles
Hailing from the modest neighborhood of Tláhauc, Adhara’s early years weren’t easy. Instead, her preschool years were marked by severe bullying by both her classmates and teachers, according to reports by Daily Mail.
Though Adhara has always had a brilliant mind, she wasn’t always considered to be a smart child.
When she was three, she was diagnosed with autism and developmental disabilities. Her speech had drastically regressed within a short space of time, and she exhibited signs of learning delays.
Her teachers were not supportive and got upset when she was unable to finish assignments or focus in class. She often fell asleep during lessons.
As a result of this cycle of performance and perception, her school years were marred by indifferent educators and torment from peers. This, in turn, led her to change schools three times during her early years.
No Ordinary Child
Adhara’s mother, Nayeli Sánchez, spoke to Marie Claire Mexico and shared a glimpse into her daughter’s hardships. The lack of empathy from her teachers and classmates eventually took a toll on her daughter, Nayeli shared. She also emphasized how this forced her daughter to retreat into herself.
However, Nayeli soon realized that Adhara was, in fact, no ordinary child. To her astonishment, the young girl began to excel in teaching herself new skills independently — she had taught herself algebra and even learned the periodic table alone.
While Nayeli did make a note of it, she didn’t think it meant much. Back then, she was more concerned about her daughter’s growing depression. Little did she know that this small step towards therapy would open some big doors for her daughter.
A Haven For The Gifted
Seeking assistance for Adhara’s depression, Nayeli turned to therapy. It was during this process that professionals suggested Adhara be sent to the Center for Attention to Talent (CEDAT).
CEDAT is an institution designed for prodigious children, and it was here that her mother learned that Adhara had exceptional intelligence. Adhara’s IQ was recorded at a staggering 162, surpassing the likes of luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
Adhara even shared that Stephen Hawking was her muse, a man she deeply admired and had learned of during a doctor’s visit. The physicist’s theories and groundbreaking research, particularly on black holes, sparked a fascination in her for space exploration.
A Remarkable Academic Journey
By age five, Adhara had completed elementary school. According to Goalcast, just a year later, she had blasted through both middle school and high school.
Adhara was on her way to big things. By 11, she had earned a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering from CNCI University. She had also started a Master’s Degree in Mathematics at the Technological University of Mexico.
Her aspirations, however, were out of this world.
“I see myself at NASA,” she confidently told reporters in 2022. Adhara, who shared that she was named after a star from the Canis Major constellation, said that she had her eyes set on joining NASA and embarking on a mission to Mars.
There’s an interesting story about how Adhara decided she wanted to be an astronaut. And it started when her mother mistakenly entered her into a UNAM competition, thinking it was for children.
It was there that she received advice from a teacher and learned that she didn’t want to be an astronomer but an astronaut for NASA.
Later, on a trip to the US, she visited the University of Arizona and met with the Vice President.
At the moment, she aspires to join the University of Arizona’s Astrophysics Program, having been offered a scholarship that, unfortunately, had to be postponed due to visa complications.
A Beacon Of Inspiration
But that’s not slowing Adhara down. Apart from her academics, Adhara is collaborating with the Mexican Space Agency, aiming to inspire other young girls to venture into space and mathematics studies.
She’s also preparing for her G-tests, which, upon successful completion, will pave the way for her to become the first autistic individual to man NASA flights by 17, as reported by Marie Claire Mexico.
Adhara has come a long way and is prepared to travel even further to achieve her ultimate goal: joining NASA.
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This article was produced by TPR Teaching.
Caitriona Maria is an education writer and founder of TPR Teaching, crafting inspiring pieces that promote the importance of developing new skills. For 7 years, she has been committed to providing students with the best learning opportunities possible, both domestically and abroad. Dedicated to unlocking students' potential, Caitriona has taught English in several countries and continues to explore new cultures through her travels.