Faces In the Crowd: Izabella Hortega

Lilly Hall, Campus & Features Editor

Many kids imagine becoming an astronaut and seeing space, but sophomore Izabella Hortega is working hard to make those dreams come true. Her passion for space began at the young age of 5 and has only grown since. 

Hortega hopes to work as an aerospace engineer with NASA or one of their partners after spending time in the military. 

“The goal is to get into the Naval Academy, and after that, join up with the Marine Corps and become a fighter pilot,” Hortega says. 

Her love for space started after visiting the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum. 

“Ever since then, I’ve just been fascinated with planets, stars, solar systems, the international space station, astronauts, all of it,” she said.

At age 11, Hortega was inspired by author Erin Teagan’s new book and corresponding doll.  The book was about a 12 year old girl named Luciana who aspired to become an astronaut and be the first person to walk on mars. 

Fast forward four years, Hortega read an email from Valley and saw an opportunity to go to a camp at Wallops Flight Facility—she knew she had to apply. 

Wallops Flight Facility is a navy-run launch site on the eastern coast of Virginia that provides real-world training to naval aviators. The application process, which Hortega described as not nearly as rigorous as other courses she’d applied to, only needed an essay and a teacher recommendation.

In order to have a chance at getting into the camp, students needed to complete a course called the Virginia Space Grant Consortium (VSGC). VSGC is a six month space course teaching students important skills necessary for a future technical career. 

Only three days after applying to VSGC, Hortega received the email that she was accepted. At first, Hortega didn’t even realize she got accepted—it didn’t sink in until her orientation meeting. 

“After the meeting, I sat in silence,” Hortega said. “I was officially in.”