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Sofi English, a young woman with long dark hair sits in front of American flag and NASA flag in the background.
In Summer 2023, Sofi English interned as a Lunar Surface and Orbital Navigation Development and Testing Intern at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. | Image: Courtesy of Sofi English.

Today, I am proud to be one step closer to touching the stars.

Sofi English ’25

With a fascination for space exploration and a history of excellence in math and science, aerospace engineering major Sofi English ‘25 began her fondness for exceeding expectations at a young age.

“Ever since I was little, I was told that I could never achieve the impossible and to settle for what is merely attainable,” English said. “Despite these efforts, I decided to take the famous NASA slogan from Gene Kranz, ‘failure is not an option,’ to the next level. When peers of mine would tell me that I would not make a career in STEM, I decided to take the ultimate challenge and work as hard as possible to make my dreams a reality.”

This strong will and determination led English to pursue an alternative method to her degree when COVID-19 forced students into lockdown. Despite the challenges, English tirelessly searched for an affordable university close to home where she could connect with professors and peers. Eventually, English stumbled upon the Texas A&M Engineering Academy program.

The Engineering Academy program is the first engineering transition program of its kind in the U.S. Students are co-enrolled with Texas A&M and one of ten partner colleges. They take mathematics, science and core curriculum courses through the partner college while taking engineering courses from Texas A&M faculty on the partner college campus. After one or two years, students transition to Texas A&M to complete their bachelor's degrees. Unlike traditional transfer programs, students are Texas A&M University College of Engineering students from day one. Additionally, students in the Academy Program are able to transition into any of 22 engineering majors after successful completion of requirements.

English was shocked to find an opportunity that perfectly aligned with her academic criteria, and she knew that the Engineering Academy program would be the ideal solution for her educational needs.

Sofi English stands outside on rocky ground wearing white space suit with face shield and backpack like pack.
Sofi English wears a prototype next-generation spacesuit at Devon Island in the Canadian High Arctic with the NASA Haughton Mars Project before going through a test. | Image: Courtesy of Sofi English.

“The future of academics was merely unknown and attending Austin Community College (ACC) amidst lockdowns has been one of the greatest decisions I have ever made,” English said. “If it were not for the Engineering Academy, I might have just accepted defeat and chosen to not chase the stars. Today, I am proud to be one step closer to touching the stars.”

English decided to enroll in the Engineering Academies and pursue a degree in aerospace engineering. Her goal is to become a spacesuit engineer and help develop the new spacesuit for the Artemis program that will send astronauts to the Lunar South Pole.

“I have a passion for innovation, solving real-world problems and obtaining diverse skills and opportunities,” English said. “An undergraduate degree in engineering is a journey that is ever-changing and gives me the opportunity to contribute to the world in a meaningful and fulfilling way.”

Now, as a senior, English uses her strong will and determination to make a difference in the world around her, both nationally and internationally. At Austin Community College, English kick-started her career by contributing to NASA's Community College of Aerospace Scholars and NASA's LSPACE program. English spent the next few summers interning with NASA Ames; the SETI Institute; NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; and the Haughton Mars Project in the High Arctic at Devon Island, Canada.

Even with all her hard work contributing to space exploration, English always finds a way to support her fellow students by acting as an ambassador for the Engineering Academies program.

“Encouraging the younger generation of engineers is beyond valuable to me, and I will never take my experiences for granted,” English said. “Being a part of the Engineering Academy Ambassador Group has enabled me to give future students insight as to how they can advance themselves by choosing the Engineering Academy. I am able to talk to incoming freshmen and enhance the future of the Engineering Academy.”

“My path has not been an easy one”

Despite English's strong will and determination, the journey hasn’t always been smooth for the engineering student.

“My path has not been an easy one, and I am no stranger to failure,” English said. “During my sophomore year of high school, I moved from Chicago to Austin due to unsafe and abusive living conditions. I moved in with an entirely different family and surrounding environment. The transition between the two lifestyles was incredibly difficult, because I had to completely alter who I was, evaluate my purpose in life and evaluate what my core values are.”

Sofi English wearing white shirt and tan pants stands in front of large white building wall with the words “International Space Station Payload Operations Center” in blue font and the NASA logo on the building.
As an intern at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, Sofi English got to take a closer look at the flight center’s International Space Station Payload Operation Center as well as the Laboratory Training Complex and simulation rooms used to prepare space station expeditions. | Image: Courtesy of Sofi English.

English has never let the challenges of her past impact her drive for success, as she believes that the greatest accomplishments in life stem from the challenges that are the most difficult to overcome.

“To move up the ladder for success, I had to come to terms with my past and integrate it into my future. Without going through a traumatic childhood, I would not have been led to become the independent woman I am today,” English said. “Failure is what made me stronger, resilient and motivated.."

“Innovative and Persevering Peers”

English credits a great deal of her success to the Engineering Academies and the peers, mentors, and professors who motivated her to excel. 

“The initiatives I have made during my experience at Texas A&M in College Station and at the ACC Engineering Academy that make my experiences worthwhile has been to create a community of innovative and persevering peers,” English said. “Constantly surrounding myself with like-minded people, like those from the Academies, has made my undergraduate degree beyond valuable to me.”

English encourages future Engineering Academies students to never give up and to take everything one day at a time.

 “It is very ok not to know your path to success yet, everything will come in time — life is beyond beautiful, and the most important thing is to learn, grow and love others,” English said. "Consistency and showing up for yourself and others is so much more valued than perfection. Have fun, be yourself, and make mistakes; it is how we all grow!”