Ellen Ochoa

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

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Ellen Ochoa

Barbara Hewett, Staff Writer

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Ellen Ochoa was born on May 10, 1958 in Los Angeles, California but grew up in La Mesa.  She graduated from Grossmont High School in 1975.  She attended SDSU, earning her bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Ochoa entered NASA as a research engineer in 1988 and moved to the Johnson Space Center in 1990 when she was chosen as an astronaut.  When she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission on board the space shuttle Discovery in 1993, she became the first Hispanic woman to go into space. She has flown in space four times, including STS-66, STS-96 and STS-110, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.  As a research engineer at Sandia National Laboratories and NASA Ames Research Center, Ochoa investigated optical systems for performing information processing. She is a co-inventor on three patents and author of several technical papers. Ochoa has been awarded with NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for senior executives in the federal government. Eventually having six schools named after her. Ochoa’s husband is Coe Miles, an intellectual attorney. They have two sons. Ochoa is a classical flutist and played with the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, once receiving the Student Soloist Award.

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