Black New Yorker: Myah Mitchell is shooting for the stars
AMBER BORDEN | 2/6/2020, 4:41 p.m.
The sky is not the limit for 16-year-old Myah Mitchell. Her aspirations are out of this world and she is determined to make her goals of becoming an astronaut a reality. According to Dr. Mae C. Jemison, Myah has managed to get the secret, “science, compassion and humanity all mixed in one.”
January 16, 2020 is a date Myah Mitchell will always remember. When the “Good Morning America” cameras entered The Mary Louis Academy classroom in Cambria Heights Queens, Mitchell along with the country got the news that she was one of the 100 students accepted into the Disney Dreamers Academy.
Stunned by the news with Keke Palmer, host of “Strahan, Sara and Keke,” Mitchell received a special video message from her role model Dr. Mae C. Jemison. “I was really shocked—I had made a vision board with Dr. Mae C. Jemison on it, she is my idol and role model. The moment felt surreal,” said Mitchell.
At around 5 or 6 years old, Mitchell did a project on Dr. Mae C. Jemison that sparked her curiosity to become an astronaut. “Her job sounded amazing and I wanted to do it,” said Mitchell. The endlessness of outer space is what draws Mitchell in and catapulted her desires of becoming an astronaut. “There is so much more we can explore, and as technology progresses I would love to see more,” beamed Mitchell.
Being a junior in high school, Mitchell is starting to focus on college. Recently returning from a Yale college tour, she is taking a closer look at the potential universities she would like to attend. She has her eyes on Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, but keeping her options open, she would also like to attend colleges in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and/or Hawaii, due to a majority of those locations being near NASA bases. “I need my pilot license and a degree in engineering,” she explained. Mitchell is taking all the necessary steps to achieve her goal of becoming an astronaut. Although these steps will take years to accomplish, this is a process she is gladly taking part of.
Even with her sights on space, Mitchell keeps herself grounded through community service and extracurricular activities. At her school, she has participated in soup kitchens and with her mother she has done food and coat drives for the needy. “It makes me feel better knowing that they’re getting what they need,” she said.
She attributes successfully doing all that she does along with school to time management. Mitchell does cheerleading, orchestra, non-competitive swimming and diving as well as robotics. She is also a self-taught pianist and plays the violin.
Having a career aspiration that surpasses stereotypical expectations of a young Black woman comes with pressure and naysayers. Yet, this pressure does not faze Mitchell. “There are people who say you can’t but I am doing this for me not them,” she said. “I can definitely do this and when I get it, it’s proof that I could do it because I am here.”
Stressing the importance of more Black people aiming to become astronauts and engineers, Mitchell believes that representation is what matters the most in this field. “It is important to see more representation to inspire the youth,” she explained. Understanding the magnitude of leading by example and having good role models, Mitchell advises those with similar aspirations to focus in school and keep their mind on their goals. “Anything is possible. It is mind over matter, you have to inspire yourself and have a good support system,” she said.
As the days come closer to the Disney Dreamers Academy, Mitchell is looking forward to the four-day event. Although this is not her first time going to Disney World, this will be the experience of a lifetime for her. The program gives Mitchell and the other accepted students the opportunity to network with industry and community leaders. “I am shy and didn’t stand out, but the program gives you your voice,” she related.
Mitchell is ready to dive deeper into what it takes to become an astronaut. It is not a matter of if she will do it but when she will do it and become who she aspires to be.