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SoYeon Yi, Part I: An Astronaut Education

Did you have trouble figuring out your major when you were in college? If so, you already have one thing in common with the world’s first Korean astronaut, Soyeon Yi. After toying with the idea of becoming an industrial engineer—she always loved designing buildings and drawing—Soyeon Yi realized it wasn’t the right fit for her; then, through a process of elimination, she decided to pursue mechanical engineering all the way through graduate school. Soyeon Yi, who also happens to be a volunteer at the Museum, explains that throughout most of her life she didn’t like encountering difficulties, but realized she couldn’t continue the same pattern: “I stopped avoiding hurdles.” Eventually she became the only woman in her cohort accepted into the graduate program for mechanical engineering—an experience she didn’t yet realize would prepare her for a history-making stint as an astronaut.

Want to hear more personal stories about aerospace history? Check out our oral history archives on our Digital Collections page.


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