David Salazar revisited his past to inspire students to follow their dreams and overcome challenges. On April 25, Salazar gave an inspirational speech to students at Fullerton College about his journey to achieving his dreams of becoming an astronaut.
Salazar, a first generation college student, began his journey at FC as an engineering major. At the time he had no idea that he would be given so many opportunities, from flying through a zero gravity parabola to being elected by California representatives to speak for and support NASA. He has overcome the difficulties that have shaped him into the successful person he is today.
When he began his studies at FC as an engineering major, he scored into Math 20. Salazar knew that it would take him a while to complete all the math requirements to transfer but he didn’t let that get in the way. He continued as a a part time student with a job trying to balance studying and work.
As Salazar continued to study he found ways to get more involved and looked for opportunities being offered to students, soon he and former classmates Jordan Tram and Derick Mardian found out about NASA’s flight week and decided they wanted to participate. With the help of two other former students Mahammad Khalik and Taylor Helgestad, they submitted their plan and got accepted to participate in the challenge. Although they didn’t win the challenge, David was reassured that this is what he loved to do. He encourages students to get involved, he says that this experience solidified his aspirations of becoming an astronaut and majoring in engineering.
Shortly after, he transferred to Cal State Long Beach to continue his undergraduate studies. It took him 10 years to finish his undergraduate studies but he has been accepted into Stanford University with a full ride. He strongly encourages and advises students to explore their opportunities and not be afraid of rejection and losing. During his studies he applied to various internships and he wasn’t always accepted, he believes that losing taught him to better himself. He even struggled with his grades at one point and didn’t always have a high GPA.
“You’ve got to learn from your mistakes and balance your work, learn how it happened and what you were doing wrong and how you can change it,” Salazar said.
Students at the event seemed excited to see that a student who once started where they are now is so successful. Markus Manhan and Michael Martinez are FC engineering students that have been accepted into the National Community Scholars Program just like Salazar once was.
“It’s exciting and interesting to see this success story from a student like me,” Manhan said.
People that have had a chance to work with Salazar are very happy for him and they continue to support his aspirations. Karen Rose and the STEM program presented him with a special certificate from FC. Rose has had the pleasure of seeing Salazar become successful in his studies.
“There are those who come along that maximize their opportunities and do things they never thought they would do,” Rose said.
She was overwhelmed to know about his acceptance letter into Stanford and hopes the best for him.