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Abigail Harrison is a public speaker, influencer and inspiring astronaut! She is truly an example of why we do what we do and why we started Svaha. Abby is an advocate for all STEAM professionals and aspiring to not only be an astronaut, but the first astronaut to Mars! Learn more about Abby and how she is making a difference in our interview below. 

What is your favorite STEAM topic?

It’s so hard to pick a favorite! I love biology because there is so much about life that we don’t understand yet, and as such, so much that we can discover that will improve people’s lives. I especially love astrobiology, which is the area I’ve had the opportunity to do the most research in.

What do you do for a living & what do you do for fun? How do you prepare for your dream mission?

For the past couple years I’ve been a student at Wellesley College pursuing my undergrad degree. During that time I’ve also worked at an observatory, worked at a greenhouse, and worked in an astrobiology research lab. But overall, my most important work has been with The Mars Generation. One of the things I do to support The Mars Generation is work as an influencer and public speaker. Not only does this provide a strong positive female STEAM role model in the public eye, but I also donate all the proceeds from this work to fund the programs The Mars Generation runs.

I do a lot of different things for fun. I love to play sports. Over the last couple years I’ve been an NCAA springboard diver, a rugby player, and a marathon runner. I also love to dance! I dance ballet, as well as partner dances such as Lindy Hop, West Coast Swing, Blues, Salsa, Bachata, and more. In the non-exercise realm, I really love art. I like to design and sew my own clothes, paint, and knit. I also play violin for fun.

I just graduated the last week of May and am taking a gap year before grad school. My first step in that year is to work as an astronomy educator at Wyoming Stargazing, a nonprofit organization in Jackson Hole.

When did you discover that you wanted to be an astronaut? And even more exciting, the first astronaut to go to Mars?

I realized I wanted to be an astronaut when I was probably four or five years old. One of my earliest memories is of looking up at the night sky and dreaming of space. I was filled with so much wonder and awe for the grandness of space, and for how little we truly know about our universe. I knew that I wanted to be one of the people to help discover our solar system. In particular, I decided that Mars was the next step in human space exploration if we want to continue to advance in space, and that that was where I wanted to help push us.

Tell us more about The Mars Generation?

The Mars Generation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that focuses on inspiring and supporting the next generation of students to pursue careers in STEAM. Additionally, we work to education and excite the public about the importance of space exploration and STEAM education. Essentially, we want to create a generation and a culture of people who will be truly capable of becoming the Mars Generation- that is, they have the skills, education, and drive to put humans on the surface of Mars.

To do so we run a variety of projects, ranging from awards that focus on featuring women and minorities in STEM to producing materials for educators to providing scholarships for low income students to attend Space Camp.

What other projects are you working on?

I’m hoping to start working towards my Instrument Rating soon (the next step after getting my private pilots license). I also am working for the next couple months with an astronomy education nonprofit in Wyoming (Wyoming Stargazing) to do public educational outreach. Come spring I’m planning on backpacking/riding the Trans-Siberian and Trans-Mongolian Railways through Russia and China. Over the next year I have a couple other exciting projects that I, and The Mars Generation, are working on but that I can’t talk about yet.

How did you first find out about Svaha?

I first heard about Svaha on Twitter.

What is your favorite Svaha item that you own?

I love love love my glow in the dark phases of the moon skirt! It is super comfortable but also looks really nice, which allows me to wear it in all different kinds of situations. For instance, I’ve worn it when I go out flying (which includes climbing around on the plane beforehand to check the oil/fuel/etc.) but I also wore it at a conference where I was presenting my research about developing artificial intelligence algorithms to predict global climate change caused infectious disease outbreaks. Like a lot of Svaha items, it’s in that perfect spot of being really easy to either dress up or dress down. Also, it glows in the dark, which is just such an awesome extra piece!

What made you fall in love with our brand?

I fell in love with Svaha after I saw how committed they are to empowering diverse women in diverse STEAM fields. I especially love that they offer products that are geared both towards women, but also towards kids. It’s super important that we encourage the next generation to dream big. But it wasn’t just seeing the great items that Svaha has available, it was seeing the way that they use social media to champion the message of inclusion in STEAM fields.

What is the best compliment you've ever received when you were wearing Svaha?

Definitely the best compliment I’ve gotten was being told ‘how completely me’ my skirt was when I was wearing the Svaha chemistry maxi skirt.

What would you like to tell our other customers?  

Svaha is great- the pockets are legit.

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