Lifestyle & Human Interest

Single Mom Scores NASA Internship But Can't Afford It, Strangers Raise $8,000 To Send Her


India Jackson recently received life-changing news. NASA has chosen her to participate in an exclusive summer internship at the Johnson Space Flight Center in Houston, Texas, where she will have the opportunity to pursue her life-long passion for astronomy and physics.

Jackson, 32, worked hard to receive this prestigious opportunity. According to Jackson’s personal website, she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics. She has been teaching math at the college level for six years.

Now, Jackson is balancing her pursuit of a doctorate in physics at Georgia State University with the responsibility of being a single mother to her 12-year-old daughter, Jewel.

“During my time at GSU, I am trying to predict solar flares using big data techniques, computer programming, and mathematical statistics in a new interdisciplinary field called Astro-informatics,” she wrote on her website.

Working at NASA has always been Jackson’s ultimate goal.

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“Something that I absolutely wanted to do was work for NASA,” Jackson told WSB-TV. She hopes to eventually work in the International Space Station and study the use of the solar telescope there.

The NASA internship seemed like a dream come true, but one huge obstacle stood in her way. Jackson would have to pay for her own travel and living expenses. With a daughter by her side, she simply couldn’t afford the internship on NASA’s stipend alone.

“I have to pay for rent in two places now, I have to rent a car,  I have food, I have my child. What am I going to do?” Jackson recalled worrying.

Her cousin, Dasha Fuller, couldn’t stand to watch Jackson’s dreams pass her by. Fuller decided to create a GoFundMe page to help raise funds for the internship. In the hopes that they could raise enough money to cover all of Jackson’s expenses over time, Fuller set the fundraiser goal at $8,000.

Fuller and Jackson never expected their goal to be met and exceeded in just one day. However, thanks to the kindness and support of strangers all over the world, the GoFundMe page almost instantly crowdfunded $8,510.

“It really caught me off guard. It was amazing and it was overwhelming, and I was just blown away,” Jackson said.

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The GoFundMe touched many strangers who recognize the financial demands of being a single mother pursuing higher education and a career. Jackson’s story is also empowering to women who dream of working in the STEM field.

“When things have to get done, they have to get done,” Jackson told WSB-TV. “I’m just blessed enough to be living in a time where everything is technology-driven, and this GoFundMe account was able to reach people around the world in order to help my cause.”

Jackson and her daughter are now preparing for their 10-week adventure in Houston. In an update thanking the donors for their generosity, Fuller wrote that the mother and daughter were planning to document the trip for their followers.

According to Georgia State University, Jackson will work with the Space Radiation Analysis group while at NASA. Her work will help protect astronauts and equipment from high radiation events in space. This internship will be a huge step toward Jackson’s dream of working at the International Space Station!

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Noel Marquis is a journalist and animal-lover hailing from the Midwest. After an internship with Disney following her college graduation, she pursued a career writing content that makes readers smile. Coffee, books and superhero movies are some of her favorite things.