Modern Day “Hidden Figure” Olympia LePoint On Escaping Poverty To Design & Launch Rockets for NASA

We’ve all seen the movie ‘Hidden Figures’ and been inspired by the women whose powerful stories were largely erased from recent American history. Thankfully, we live in an era where more hidden stories about the contributions of women of color in society are being shared, made into movies, written about and amplified. The importance of this cannot be understated, as modern day STEM hero Olympia LePoint’s own story shows.

You may not recognize her name (yet), but once you get familiar with her achievements, you will be inspired. Olympia is an award-winning rocket scientist who has successfully launching 28 NASA Space Shuttle Missions. She is also an author, news journalist, and speaker, whose TED Talk has over 1 million views and counting. She is a force in the science field and is the very definition of female empowerment, with her entrepreneurial spirit and massive influence around the world. She’s been dubbed the ‘Modern Day Hidden Figure‘ by People Magazine and hailed as ‘The New Einstein’ by her fans.

Most recently, Olympia created a human decision-making scientific theory called Quantum Deciding, revealing the secret science to achieve your best future. The theory is included in her new self-help educational book ‘Answers Unleashed II: The Science of Attracting What You Want‘. The book breaks down how to overcome your fear of the future in just six effective decisions. Her scientific theory and book were born from a place of personal experience, growing up in poverty in South Central Los Angeles and experiencing traumatic adversity in her youth.

Olympia rose to success by reprogramming her mind to achieve the brighter future she was destined for. Olympia was always a creator and loved solving problems, but struggled with math growing up. After almost failing the subject, a math tutor helped Olympia turn around her score in only 30 days. Olympia overcame failing her math scores and graduated Top 5 from California State University Northridge with advanced degrees in Mathematics.

On top of her various scientific accomplishments, Olympia is leading the way for all BIPOC and women in STEM fields. As a woman of color herself with a widely successful brand, Olympia hopes to educate and inspire others through science. She often advocates for BIPOC representation, women in science and leadership, mental and physical health, the importance of climate change, and accessible education.

While her achievements and accolades are enough to make anyone light headed, her story is important to share as Olympia believes everyone has the power within their own minds to reach their goals. We spoke to the STEM role model about her background, mentorship and the importance of investing in underserved youth.

Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, you have overcome a lot of adversity in your early life. Can you share more about this and what the turning point was for you? 

In my youth, I grew up in severe poverty in South Los Angeles, and often we had no food to eat at home. The food stamps were not enough to feed five people. At times, I went to school for a hot meal. At 9 years old, I witnessed gang violence and deaths on our street corner, while avoiding the drug addicted predators outside of the crack house that was next-door. While living through these horrific inner-city experiences through age 15, I listened to my mom in receiving an education.

I vowed to always stay in school and educate myself, no matter how hard I’d have to work for success. My journey was rough. I failed many math classes due to emotional trauma, and I had to take many classes over. I prayed for opportunities to change my future. Despite the failing grades, I realized that science was my ticket to success.

It was in my senior year of high school that I decided to go to the tutoring classes that our teacher was offering in the Winter session. I had to borrow $1.35 each way to get to school. The gas station attendant gave me the money to catch the bus two hours to campus, knowing that I would not be able to pay it immediately back. It was a kind form of donation.

I traveled to school every day during the break. After receiving tutoring for a month, the light bulb came on in my head. I realized that I could remove the fear from my head, and in doing so, I could start to own the power of my life.

I graduated high school and chose to enter college as a math major. Ironically, the only job I could find when entering school was a math tutoring job. I remember telling my boss that I did not understand all the math. She said, “That is okay, read the book with them.” So I did, and I learned math with every student who came for tutoring.

While in that role, I helped thousands of students overcome their math fears in group tutoring programs. I learned to master math.  In doing so, I was one of the Top 5 graduates of a 6,500-graduating class. I earned advanced mathematics degrees from California State University Northridge and became an award-winning rocket scientist, helping launch 28 NASA Space Shuttle Missions into space. 

How did mentorship and opportunity play a role in you being able to achieve your scientific dreams?

In my aerospace career, my official job title was a “propulsion scientist,” which is commonly referred to as a rocket scientist. I had several men mentor me into becoming an award-winning rocket scientist. Together, we helped design cutting-edge engine designs; helped win $55 Million in new engine contracts; helped protect astronaut lives during launches while supporting NASA’s Mission Control; and my work was cited as strength in NASA award letters.

I thank Steve Hobart, Zhao Huang, Dennis Early, and Mike Carlson who helped me understand engines from the ground up. With their support, I won the “Modern Day Technology Leader” Engineer of the Year Award, and the “Boeing Professional Excellence Award”

What would you say to industry leaders who write off generations of young kids who grow up in low-income families or areas?

Be careful not to stereotype. You can change your thinking and start valuing the intelligence of students from low-income areas. They are brilliant thinkers, and their survival skills translates into innovative solutions. Survival is a powerful emotion, and when it is focused on reinventing systems, the low-income students become the leaders in innovation. They have pulled themselves out of the toughest situations and that mental ability is a form of genius.

As a sought after speaker you talk a lot about a human decision-making scientific theory called Quantum Deciding which you created. Can you share more about this? 

In my latest book, ‘Answers Unleashed II: The Science of Attracting What You Want’, I reveal a new decision-making science called “Quantum Deciding.” The word Quantum means that you can jump through time to find answers with your new decisions. To better explain, you have a past version of you who must overcome fear when certain events keep happening. And you have a future version of you, who knows how to break the cycle. When you go to the ‘Past-You’ and coach yourself though challenging memories, and go to the ‘Future-You’ and ask for advice, you create a powerful energy system around you that pulls in what you want.  

Quantum Deciding is 6 different smart-coded, brilliant, decision-energies that circle around you. The rotating energy represents your decisions regarding your Faith, Identity, Intent, Learning, Resources and How You Love through situations.  When you make fresh decisions, you give off a light signal that attracts new opportunity for the future that you want.  

My theory is based on Albert Einstein’s Quantum Entanglement principles, and my own personal story.

You are also passionate about the BIPOC representation in STEM industries. Why is this important to you, and how can all of society benefit when we see more diversity in this area?

When I entered college in 1993, national statistics showed that only 1 in 31, 000 women of color like myself would go on to earn a PhD in Mathematics or become a rocket scientist. In fact, a person of my background would have a better chance to be hit by lightning twice than to earn her degrees or become a rocket scientist. When I first learned about this statistic, I wondered why the number was so low.  Then, as I took my math classes, I was not always welcomed by some of the other young male students. I usually had to ace tests to be treated with respect.

And when I entered rocket science, not all men were accustomed to working with a woman. And most had NEVER worked with a woman of color. I had to work twice as hard as a woman, and three times as hard as a person of color for the same recognition as the men. It is through my experience that I am passionate about diversity.  I opened the eyes of many men who learned the value of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).  We, BIPOC, are brilliant leaders through being an example of excellence.

For parents who are looking for opportunities to get their daughters into STEM, where do you recommend they start? 

I recommend downloading a copy of my first book ‘Mathaphobia: How You Can Overcome Your Math Fears and Become a Rocket Scientist’. My book helps students learn how math is used in real life. And the book helps students identify if they are “Quincy-the-Quitter”, “Donna-the-Over-Doer”, “Samuel the Struggler” or “Crystal-the-Criticizer.” With a three-step method, students (and their parents) learn to program their thinking and take action steps to ace math. It is a fun math book completely written in English!

As someone who is considered a modern day “Hidden Figure”, what do you want younger generations of girls, especially girls of color, to know about STEM industries?

If you are a young woman of color, I’d like you to consider a career in science. Math and Science is used across the world in STEM careers. When you learn science, you have great opportunities to work in cutting edge technology that will help save the entire world.

Finally, something we like to ask all our interviewees: what makes you a powerful woman?  

My power comes from my prayers and asking God for answers on how I can make this Earth a better place for everyone who also wants to be the change in which they wish to see in this world.

You can buy ‘Answers Unleashed II: The Science of Attracting What You Want’ by clicking HERE.

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