Garza Early College aerospace scholar soars toward astronaut dream


Hugo Duran couldn’t contain himself when he got the biggest news of his life.

He learned he had just been selected as part of the High School Aerospace Scholars program and would spend a week this summer studying under the guidance of some of the nation’s top engineers and scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“I was in physics class, and I jumped out of my chair screaming,” Duran said. “Everyone was looking at me, and I didn’t even care because it was so much hard work trying to get into the program—something that I really wanted to do.”

Duran, who had to complete tons of research, develop projects and write essays (the longest was 3,000 words) to be considered for the program, developed an interest in aeronautics at a very young age.

“I was always fascinated by airplanes when I was a young boy, and when I was about eight, I told my mom that I wanted to be a fighter pilot and eventually an astronaut,” Duran said. “This is another step closer to my dream. It’ll be a challenge, but with my work ethic, I’ll make it.”

Duran is one of 270 students across Texas who will participate in the program. The students will work in teams to develop a mission to Mars. His team is the Alpha Team, and it’s their job to develop the space base where the astronauts will live. Other teams will develop space suits, rovers, and rockets.

In addition, the students will participate in NASA briefings and tours. The week will conclude with the students presenting their projects to senior staff members at the center, their parents, members of the Texas Legislature, and others.

“I think the most interesting part of the program will be working with engineers, rocket scientists and the people from NASA and seeing how their lives are and how they got there,” he said

Duran, a rising senior at Trinidad Garza Early College High School, will spend July 12-18 participating in the NASA program.

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