A single mom needed to pay for a NASA internship. Hundreds of strangers chipped in to help her
Landing an internship at NASA has been a dream come true for India Jackson, who balances her time between raising a preteen daughter and using advanced math to predict solar flares and radiation belts.
But the single mom wasn't sure whether she could afford to do it.
Jackson, 32, is working on her Ph.D in solar physics at Georgia State University in Atlanta.
"I'm kind of like a space weather girl," she said. "I will be using my mathematical background in order to try to predict solar flares and radiation belts."
She's been selected for a 10-week internship at NASA's Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas.
It's a paid internship, but moving is expensive. Jackson said she'd have to fly with her daughter, Jewel Henry, to Texas, find a place to live, rent a car and keep paying her bills at home, so she'll have a place to live after the internship.
"This is amazing, an amazing opportunity, a lifetime dream," Jackson said. "I just didn't know how I would do it."
Her cousin, Dasha Fuller, set up a GoFundMe campaign to help her out.
"I didn't want her to turn down the opportunity just because she couldn't get out there," Fuller said. "I knew how much it meant for her."
'Would absolutely love to work for NASA'
Fuller said she'd never tried crowdfunding before, but it worked. The campaign stopped taking donations after a day because it had passed the $8,000 goal.
"I've gotten an amazing amount of support from all around world," Jackson said.
Jackson hopes to finish her doctorate in 2022 and plans to try to get a job as a research professor at an Atlanta-area university.
"I will always teach, I will always teach, even if it's part time. I will always be a college instructor, whether it's math or physics," she said.
But, she hopes that NASA is also a part of her future.
"If given the opportunity I would absolutely love to work for NASA and [my] ultimate lifetime goal is to get to the International Space Station. If it were possible for me to do that in any way, I would definitely take those steps in order to make that happen," she said.
"It will be a difficult thing to do, but what I've done thus far has been difficult, so it's not impossible for me to make that happen."