Stellar student brings space inspired STEM event with Astronaut Don Thomas to her community of Nogales, AZ

Higher Orbits 

Michelle Lucas


Stellar student brings space inspired STEM event with Astronaut Don Thomas to her community of Nogales, AZ

Higher Orbits Galactic HQ – January 29, 2024 
Thanks to the fundraising efforts from senior student, Yuridia Sanchez, Higher Orbits’ Go For Launch! program will be held at Nogales High School from February 10-11, 2024 with Astronaut Don Thomas along with other aerospace professionals.

The hands-on flagship program of Higher Orbits spotlights the wonders of spaceflight and space exploration to provide students across the country the opportunity to develop and strengthen their skills in STEM, teamwork, communication, research design, and leadership. While focusing on spaceflight, Go For Launch! students work alongside a featured astronaut at each event to learn and develop important skills that can be applied in any professional field. This event’s featured astronaut is Don Thomas, who has completed four missions to space STS-65, STS-70, STS-83, and STS-94.

Yuridia Sanchez, 18-year-old senior student, led fundraising efforts to bring the event to her community after first attending Go For Launch! event at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as part of her 4-H experience. Her passion for sciences grew astronomically, and she strove to bring the same opportunity to the students of her community.

“I knew I wanted to bring it to my community because, we don't get a lot of resources,” explained Sanchez in an interview. “One of my big thoughts about being STEMists is that when you find something this big, your job as a STEMist is to find a way to bring it back to your community and help others that were in the same position as you were.

”Sanchez took the opportunity to use her senior project to fundraise over $60,000 for students to be able to attend cost-free and guarantee that an experiment launched to the International Space Station from their event.

“This is not just a project to me, this is my passion, and this is me giving back to my community.” Sanchez said. “I just see it as my responsibility and my way of giving back to the people who have given to me.”

Go For Launch! Nogales is open to students in grades 8-12 and will be held February 10-11, 2024, at the Nogales High School in Nogales, Arizona. Interested students can register online at www.GoForLaunch.Nogales.

Students will be mentored at this event by Astronaut Don Thomas as well as a variety of professionals from the aerospace industry.

Go For Launch! Nogales is generously supported by a grant from the HS Lopez Family Foundation and Nogales Rotary, as well as community support from Santa Cruz County Superintendents, Amado Cowbells, Calixtro Distributing, MAS Melons and Grapes, and many others. Go For Launch! is supported across the country by our IDEA Space Coalition which includes Iridium and Burns & McDonnel,  as well as by Intergalactic Voyager sponsors A-B Emblem, Uniphi Space Agency, Space Tango, and Space Shirts.

About Higher Orbits:
Founded in 2015, Higher Orbits is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization creating an experiential learning lab for secondary school students across the United States, focused on the multi-faceted worlds of space exploration, research, and spaceflight in order to launch the next generation workforce our world desires.


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