Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 – October 15.
My name is Scarlin Hernandez, and I’m a 26-year-old Dominican Spacecraft Engineer for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope mission at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. As part of the Flight Operations Team, I test ground system software and code real-time procedures that will be used to command and control the spacecraft on-orbit. The telescope will be used to discover new planets and the first stars after the dark ages.
The National Science Foundation awarded me a full scholarship to the Capitol Technology University (CTU) in Laurel, MD. I completed an internship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and by the age of 20, I was part of the ground control system team for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite. In 2013, I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, but I found my real niche in Astronautical Engineering. After graduation, I was a mission planning lead and system engineer for the TRMM mission before transferring to work on the James Webb Space Telescope mission.
I helped start a SWE chapter at my college and served as secretary my very first year. By senior year I became president of that chapter helping other young women like myself network with business professionals, take professional development training and learn new leadership skills. During my career, SWE continues to be a part of my life. I currently help identify prospective candidates of employment at SWE conferences and SHPE events. Moreover, SWE inspired me to establish a women empowerment program at my workplace, and I will always be proud to be a woman engineer.
Why did you join SWE?
I joined SWE because upon arriving to college I quickly realized I was unicorn. I was desperate to connect with other women and SWE was the way for me to find them, join forces and make change happen. We built a community where women could share their experiences and learn from one another. We knew that unity was the key to success.
What do you like the most about your heritage?
What I like most about my heritage besides the family values that are instilled in us, are the food and our traditional music! The smell of mama’s arroz and habichuela can put a smile on anyone’s face! The sound of the drums and guitar playing during a song of Bachata or Merengue, have a way of getting people out of their seats, uniting hand-in-hand and dancing until their feet hurt!
What is a piece of advice you would offer to other SWE Latina members?
Keep Going! Nothing’s impossible when you believe in yourself! Surround yourself with a support system. Start an affinity group. Stay connected with SWE and take advantage of all it has to offer. Going the distance is your only option!!
How do you celebrate your heritage during this month?
I like to celebrate my Hispanic heritage month by spending quality time with family and doing something that reminds us of our homeland. Whether it’s going through old pictures of us in Dominican Republic, picking vegetables at the farm or horseback riding, remembering your roots is what’s important!
Below is a link to a short film I did for Hispanic Heritage last year. It aired on NASA TV. Now I may be able to inspire others through your platform and for that I’m very grateful!! #IAmWithSWE