Aspiring NASA Engineer Alena Wicker Accepted To College... At Age 12

This child genius has shown extreme intelligence and determination in working towards her goals.

Mars Elena11 / Shutterstock

12-year-old Alena Wicker made headlines this month after she announced her acceptance to Arizona State University, and her plans to work as an engineer for NASA in the next four years.

Immensely accomplished for her age, Alena has been labeled a child genius, and since her story was published she has received widespread support.

Here is everything you need to know about pioneering young prodigy Alena Wicker.

Her college admission was a surprise.


Alena’s mother, Daphne McQuarter, taught the pre-teen at home before her acceptance to Arizona State.

“She just had a gift for numbers and Legos and science,”Daphne said of her daughter, “so I started nurturing that gift.”

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McQuarter told The Shade Room that she didn’t even know Alena had applied to college at first. The child completed the required paperwork on her own and revealed the information to her mother after being accepted.

Alena chose ASU because of its NASA connections, which she intends to take advantage of while attending the school. She plans to double major in astronomical and planetary science, alongside chemistry, and she has apparently already begun taking college courses.

Alena hopes to become the youngest Black woman to work at NASA.

The future engineer aims to have a job at the organization by the time she graduates, at the age of 16, which would make her the youngest of her race and gender ever to reach this point. Specifically, Alena wants to help develop rovers for space exploration.


“I'll be driving one of those future space mobiles by the time I graduate college,” she claimed with confidence.

Alena says she has dreamed of working for NASA since she was a toddler.

“At four years old she said ‘I'm going to work at NASA and I'm going to go up there,’ and she would point to the stars,” Daphne recalled, revealing the long-standing nature of her daughter’s career ambition.

The prodigy’s passion for construction also goes way back.

“I always liked dreamed of being an engineer because throughout my life I liked building,” Alena said. She has been skilled with Legos from an early age, and admits to being “kind of a nerd for the NASA-sized Legos.”


Reportedly, Alena has already become the youngest member of the National Society of Black Engineers.

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Alena’s mother has always supported her career goals. Daphne has been taking her daughter on annual trips to NASA locations for years now, allowing her to explore her passion.

The pair also got to witness the launch of the Mars rover Perseverance last month – although the trip didn’t exactly go as planned.

Alena and her mother planned to go to Houston on February 18th to watch the journey of the rover, which Alena called “the most beautiful being ever.” However, the trip was diverted when NASA’s Johnson Space Center shut down for weather and other facilities closed due to Covid-19.


“I’m crushed,” the 12-year-old wrote on Facebook. “I’ve waited forever for this moment.”

Luckily, Alena and Daphne managed to make it down to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to observe the rover’s journey, an experience Alena described as “the best feeling ever.”

Alena is also a singer, among other hobbies and interests.


The brilliant youngster loves to sing. She is a fan of the famed Broadway musical Hamilton and has boasted that she made the fifth chair “all region” in her local choir.

Alena also loves Dr. Seuss, especially his book Oh The Places You’ll Go, one quote from which she says describes her perfectly: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Alena’s journey to college and towards NASA certainly seems to exemplify this excerpt!

Her clothing preferences include hoodies and hair bows, and some of her favorite foods are pizza and chocolate chip cookies from Chick-fil-A.

She is also a Scorpio, having been born on November 19th. It makes sense that Alena’s star sign would be associated with ambition and determination!


Alena is using the internet to share her story.

The impressive adolescent documents her life on Facebook and Instagram, where she posts updates on her experiences, often including pictures of Lego projects.

Alena is working to create her own website, titled “Brown STEM Girl,” to support other Black girls in STEM education and career paths. The platform will provide its users with social networking and resources to help them achieve their goals.

She also plans to publish a line of hoodies, an online podcast, and a children’s book called “Brainiac World.”


Alena believes in shooting for the stars – literally and figuratively!

“I’m just planning it all as I go,” the young student said of her progress towards her goals. She encouraged others to invest the same effort.


“It doesn’t matter what your age or what you’re planning to do,” Alena declared. “Go for your dream, then accomplish it.”

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Allie McGlone is a writer who covers a variety of topics for YourTango, including pop culture and entertainment.