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Reach for the Stars & Beyond

Reach for the Stars & Beyond

PSJA ISD Alum shares inspiring educational journey from early college to NASA

In the realm of space exploration, dreams are often fueled by a passion for the unknown and an unwavering determination to push boundaries. Bryan Acosta, a Flight Software Engineer at NASA and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD Alum, embodies this spirit of exploration and resilience. His remarkable journey from PSJA Memorial Early College High School (ECHS) in Alamo to the corridors of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Houston, Texas, now serves as a beacon of inspiration for students.

 

According to Acosta, his academic journey first took flight at PSJA Memorial ECHS, where he participated in the PSJA Early College Program. Through the program, Acosta graduated with an Associate Degree in Mathematics from South Texas College before receiving his high school diploma in 2019. 

Through PSJA ISD’s nationally recognized Early College Program in partnership with South Texas College and other higher-education institutions, high school students can graduate with up to an Associate Degree or 60 college credit hours before their high school graduation free of cost.

 

After graduating from PSJA ISD, Acosta continued his educational journey at the University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Computational Engineering and ultimately becoming the first member of his family to graduate from college. Immersed in the Texas Spacecraft Lab, he honed his skills as a flight software engineer, drawing inspiration from peers who had charted their own paths to aerospace careers. 

 

“I always had a love for space and engineering, and when I got to college, I realized I could combine both of those interests, but I honestly never saw a career in NASA being within reach,” said the PSJA Alum. “Two members of the UT Society of Professional Engineers inspired me and made me realize a job at NASA was not just a crazy dream.”

 

As a member of the NASA Johnson Space Center team, Acosta contributes his expertise to the development of the Gateway Spacecraft, a cutting-edge space station poised to orbit the moon for scientific exploration. His internships at aerospace titans such as Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin have provided invaluable insights, enriching his understanding of the industry and fueling his passion for innovation.

 

Beyond his professional achievements, Acosta remains deeply committed to fostering diversity and inclusivity in STEM fields. As Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Acosta spearheads initiatives to support underrepresented students, ensuring equitable access to opportunities for growth and advancement.

 

“I found that throughout college, internships, and now my job at NASA, there is a huge disparity in the diversity among engineers in the workforce,” said Bryan Acosta. “I believe this disparity happens because of the difference in resources starting from k-12 education. That is why fostering diversity and inclusivity and support for underrepresented students is one of my biggest motivators to be involved as a mentor and leader in STEM promoting organizations.”

Acosta humbly attributes his success to the college courses he took at PSJA Memorial ECHS, which allowed him to seamlessly transition into university-level coursework at UT Austin and pursue advanced studies. He emphasizes the benefits of the dual enrollment program in reducing time and cost associated with obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

 

“PSJA ISD has many opportunities in different career paths,” said Acosta. “I found that PSJA will work hard to help provide you with the opportunity to reach your goals. The dual enrollment program is amazing.”

 

PSJA Memorial ECHS is one of PSJA ISD’s numerous comprehensive early college high schools. All PSJA ISD high schools are designated Early College, making them innovative institutions that allow students to attend college and high school simultaneously. Early College High Schools offer rigorous instruction and provide academic, social, and emotional support services to help students succeed.

 

The proud PSJA ISD alum is grateful for the opportunities he’s had and advises current students to work hard for their dreams.

 

“Do your research on all potential careers. There is something for everyone. Do not pursue a particular field only for money, because odds are you will be miserable throughout your education and your career,” said the PSJA Alum. “Follow your dreams no matter what anyone tells you. I didn't think it would be possible for me to work at NASA, so I did not choose aerospace engineering. If only younger me knew of everything I would eventually achieve!”

 

As an open enrollment public school district, PSJA ISD welcomes students living anywhere in the Rio Grande Valley. For more information about these programs and opportunities, visit: www.psjaisd.us/earlycollegeprogram.

 

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