Quick Q&A with Christina



Hello everyone!


I recently came across some Canadian Space Agency astronaut profiles and loved learning about each of the astronauts. So I figured that I would do one myself, to let you know a little bit more about me. Perhaps either the CSA or ESA will see this and think that I would be a fab astronaut candidate?


Space and exploration


What inspired you to become interested in space?


As a child, I remember reading a book about "Famous Canadians" and first learning about Roberta Bondar. I was fascinated, and repeatedly read that article. My family was always interested in space, with my mum telling me about the constellations overhead, and my dad taking me out to stargaze on a perfectly clear night. I never really realised that it could be a career path for me, and have always enjoyed being involved in various activities. However, nothing quite captured my imagination like space, and it was only after meeting Dr. Ellen Stofan, reading about the incredible Glasgow born Naziyah Mahmood, as well as going to networking events where I met women in the space sector, that I suddenly realised the opportunities available to me.


Space, for me, is the ultimate challenge and next frontier. Being involved in the sector puts you on the forefront of innovation and exploration. I'm really looking forward to challenging myself, and working with other dynamic minds at this exciting time in space history. I also want to show other young people that it is possible to achieve amazing things, like being an astronaut or rocket scientist, and encourage them to get involved in the future of space.

If you could pick one place to explore in our solar system where would you go?

Other than the moon, which has a breathtaking view of the Earth, I would love to go to the rings of Saturn. Specifically, Enceladus, the brightest of Saturn's moons. Unlike our moon, Enceladus is smooth, featureless, and completely covered with ice. However, the south pole has massive geysers which spray water out into space, part of which forms Saturn's E-ring. In fact, the Cassini probe found that the vents connect to a saltwater ocean, that is hidden under the ice.


Not only is water necessary for expanding further into the galaxy, but water plus energy are the building blocks for life. Who knows, there may be some form of life on Enceladus?

Work and studies


What motivated you to study in your field?

I have always been interested by a lot of different things, but spaceflight and airplanes especially fascinated me. I was a good all round student, but especially enjoyed my physics classes. As a child, I was curious and enjoyed understanding things about the world around me. Engineering was naturally the way for me to go. However, after attending a talk by the ex-NASA Chief Scientist, Ellen Stofan, and meeting some really inspirational women in the space sector at events, I realised that I was really passionate about aerospace. There's so much innovation coming from the field, and fascinating questions that we have yet to answer.


What did you like best about being a student?

I enjoy having the opportunity to get involved with various opportunities at university. If you want to play volleyball or skydive, or watch Harry Potter films, there are clubs for you to join. For me, my favourite activities were being involved with my university's rocketry team, being on society committees, and doing STEM outreach. It's amazing to meet a range of people, and also figure out my interests along the way.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Definitely moving to Edinburgh for university. I feel that I've really grown as a person and engineer. It's at Edinburgh where I truly learned about my passion for aerospace, and I have found a community of people who are pushing to expand the bounds of the sector. I really didn't know what to expect going into university, but I know that I will be leaving with a sense of purpose on who I'm meant to be in the world.


Advice and inspiration


What is your motto?

Breathe, believe, achieve. This was one of my ski racing coach's mantra, and it became a favourite amongst my team. Christine even had the motto written along her radio!


What is the best career advice you've ever received?

One thing that I've learned from both of my parents is "there's always another way." There are so many different paths to take in life. Just because one doesn't quite pan out the way you expected it to, that doesn't mean that you have to drop everything and completely rethink your life. I think this is great advice for the engineering world, as well as for careers. Perhaps you didn't get that dream internship you've been dreaming about since you were 10, but that doesn't mean that you have to give up on your dream of becoming a physicist, fashion editor, or anything! As long as you keep working at your goal, you will find another way to get there. When going through your career, you'll sometimes find yourself in tight spots. Sometimes your Plan A won't work, but if you keep a creative and open mind, there will be a way to solve your problem eventually. I've been taught to find those other paths, no matter how hidden they are, and I really have my parents to thank for that!


Think back to a teacher who had a positive impact on your life. What did she/he do to influence you?

Mr. Harding, my high school science teacher. I remember when I entered high school, he always used to set challenging homework and tasks, but would also try to get us all to engage in cool science things. I didn't realise at the time how exciting he made science, and it really piqued my interest in the subject. He also supported me as I made a club that investigated rocket fuels as our teacher sponsor. I even ended up taking a Leadership class outside of school, not only to develop my own skills, but also because he was such an interesting individual to learn from!


Which living person do you most admire? Or who are your heroes in real life?

I always like to have a range of heroes, and draw from each of their respective experiences. Of course, I admire my parents, for all of the sacrifices they have made for me and the family. They have both really fostered a sense of adventure in me, and taught me that it is possible to achieve your goals. In terms of astronauts I really look up to Roberta Bondar, the first female Canadian astronaut, and Helen Sharman, the first Brit in space! They both have such interesting backstories, and I love that they were able to become astronauts at a time when it really wasn't common for females to be in STEM. I'd also like to mention Jim Lovell, the commander of Apollo 13, who remained calm under pressure, and took the "successful failure" all in stride. He really has taught me a lot about our definitions of success versus failure. I also really look up to Emily Calandrelli, an aerospace engineer/TV host and basically the coolest person ever. She's done so many amazing things in the space sector, and posts such amazing outreach videos. I can honestly say for certain that she was the person who helped me decide I wanted to/actually was able to become an aerospace engineer. There are also countless women that I have reached out to on social media, and also women in space all over Scotland, who are all working hard to make their mark on the sector, and follow their passion. They all inspire me, every day!


Personal tastes and favourites


What is your favourite sci-fi movie?

I would have to say Apollo 13. It has always fascinated me how something could be a "successful failure", and yet, this mission proved there could be! Visually, it was super well done, and I was on the edge of my seat, even though I knew the ins and outs of the mission. As well, the technical details were extremely well done, and really broke it down for the general audience to understand.


What is your favourite book?

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield really captured my imagination growing up, and I've read it several times. It's so fascinating to get an insight into astronaut training, and how he made "the impossible possible." The book is designed to teach you how to think like an astronaut, and also describes Hadfield's story from his dream of becoming an astronaut, to his time in space. It's such an interesting read, filled with some little nuances about the technicalities of living in space. The book really inspired me when I was younger, and taught me to much about having a goal, and how to go out there and achieve it. Not to mention, Col. Hadfield is Canadian, and it's pretty cool to hear about a fellow Canuck doing such amazing things.


What is your favourite place on Earth?

This is a difficult one, because I have some beautiful memories around the world. However, I have to say that my home, in Vancouver, is my favourite place on Earth. There is nowhere else in the world that has such raw, untouched beauty, only a few minutes away from a buzzing metropolis. I love the ocean, the mountains, the city, and the people.


What is your most treasured possession?

I don't really have treasured possessions, now that I think about it. I remember having a memory box of precious objects when I was a child, and yes, although I am still a hoarder, after reflecting on the importance of friends and family, I realise that my most treasured possessions are my memories and relationships. I think it's so important to recognise the amazing people around us, and the importance of family and friendship.


Thanks for reading through my little astronaut Q&A, and I hope you found fun as interesting as I did!


What's a fun fact about you?


Chrissy

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Mechanical Engineering student. Future space engineer. Writer. Runner. Passionate about getting more women into STEM.

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