The 1969 moon landing made by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin kicked off space travel for America and made a spark that would light the ambitions of many young aspiring individuals. Franklin Chang-Diaz was one of these children that looked up to the stars and envisioned themselves making a “giant leap for mankind” (Neil Armstrong). Little did Diaz know that he would be a huge influence on space travel and equal rights for all races. As the first Latino-American to go to space, Franklin Chang-Diaz has broken boundaries with his work that still influence America to this day.
Franklin Chang-Diaz was born in Costa Rica to a family with six children. He had aspirations to become an astronaut ever since he was young. When Franklin became a teenager, he moved to the United States. He nearly flunked out of high school, but by graduation he won a scholarship to the University of Connecticut. He was not a citizen, however, and was granted an exception. During college, Franklin won more scholarships to help pay for his studies. Franklin then went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he gained American citizenship and was selected to become an astronaut (Browne). Chang-Diaz went on to fly seven missions to outer space, and is now the CEO of a rocket engine company (The Famous People).
As the first Latino-American astronaut, Franklin Chang-Diaz is very significant for Latinos. Chang-Diaz became an American advocate for other Latino countries. Franklin also helps maintain ties with Latino countries such as Costa Rica. Franklin Chang-Diaz also represents the Hispanic American population. He breaks boundaries made by stereotypes and generalizations about what Latinos can do. Diaz also helps to bring greater significance to Hispanic people in the world. He encourages Hispanic countries to get involved in space to prove that space is a domain for all.
Franklin Chang-Diaz affected Americans when he was an astronaut and still influences America to this day. Diaz changed Americans’ views of Latinos when he was selected as an astronaut. Him becoming an astronaut also showed other countries the increasing diversity that was happening within the United States. Being the first Latino American to travel into space (Rocket Man), Franklin Chang-Diaz inspires the poorer people of America to not lose hope and paves the way for other people of color to do great things in the world. Chang-Diaz is currently working on building a more efficient and more powerful rocket engine that will help astronauts in the future get to their destinations faster. As Diaz said, “I really believe that [although] this technology can be disruptive, that it can transform the way we travel” (Rocket Man).
The advancements that Franklin Chang-Diaz brought to the space industry and the cultural influence that he had on America break the boundaries of society and still affect us today. Even with all of Diaz’s influence, Latino Americans are still not equally treated in American society. With the immigration laws being passed to the wall that our president is attempting to build, the gap between Latinos and Americans is growing larger. However, people do not forget the influence that Diaz had on American society, and continue to strive for equality for all so that one day, “anybody can [pursue their dreams]” (Chang-Diaz).
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