March 27, 2024

Three Black Students Selected As Astronaut Scholars Make HBCU History


Three students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (N.C. A&T) have been named 2023 Astronaut Scholars, marking a historic moment for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). 

A Historical Moment For HBCUs

The Astronaut Scholarship was founded in 1984 by the surviving members of the Mercury 7 crew members. It stands as one of the nation’s most prominent scholarships for students pursuing STEM degrees.

N.C. A&T is the first HBCU to have more than one Astronaut Scholarship recipient in a year, a significant milestone in promoting diversity in STEM fields. 

The scholarships, valued at up to $15,000 each, support educational expenses while offering lifelong engagement opportunities with STEM community figures, including astronauts, executives, and researchers.

Meet the students

During a special event at Harrison Auditorium, students Kristi Barnes, Maya Odom, and Breyana Robinson  were publicly recognized by astronauts and retired Air Force Col. Frederick Drew Gregory.

Barnes is a chemical engineering major who focuses on diabetes treatment, Odom is a computer engineering student dedicated to equitable technology distribution, and Robinson is an aspiring veterinarian focusing on animal science.

“I want to play an active role in disease prevention by engineering systems that transform medicine, nutrition, and diagnostics, and I want to end Type 2 diabetes because it runs in my family,” Barnes said.

“I also plan to blend my spirit of service with my STEM degree to help the progression of diversity in the STEM workforce.”

Sara Keenan

Tech Reporter at POCIT. Following her master's degree in journalism, Sara cultivated a deep passion for writing and driving positive change for Black and Brown individuals across all areas of life. This passion expanded to include the experiences of Black and Brown people in tech thanks to her internship experience as an editorial assistant at a tech startup.