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Young Polish woman at NASA – how to make dreams come true?

The history of Polish research on the cosmos dates back to the times of Nicolaus Copernicus, who in his work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium was the first to describe the heliocentric vision of the Solar System.

On April 20th, amazing news appeared – 27-year-old Polish woman, Julia Stankiewicz got accepted to NASA. Who is Julia? How did she achieve such great success at such a young age?

Julia Stankiewicz is a Polish woman who received higher education at renowned universities abroad, including the Paris Sorbonne (where the first lecturer in history was our compatriot Maria Skłodowska-Curie), the International Space University and the Technical University of Manchester. She is fluent in English, French and German and knows several programming languages. Julia is a scholarship holder of the Rafał Brzoska Foundation, the Talent Development Foundation, the Anna Pasek Foundation and the Technical University of Munich. She achieved international success as a member of the team designing the MOVE-III satellite as part of her work at the Technical University of Munich mentioned above. Julia completed a one-year internship at Rolls-Royce plc – a company that, among other things, builds aircraft engines, as well as ESA Academy.

Failure is not the end of the world

In the first weeks of studying abroad, I felt determined to prove to myself and to others that I deserved this place. This was due to the fact that after high school I stayed at home for a year and improved my matura exam scores in both physics and mathematics to get into good universities abroad

Interview with Julia Stankiewicz, [1]

Julia’s story is an example of great perseverance in pursuiting the goal – preparations for recruitment to NASA began in 2020. Due to military restrictions, job opportunities among the space elite are limited to people who do not have a US passport or green card. There is a special program for foreign students to apply for. Polish students can also apply for the JPL Visiting Student Research Program. It is within this initiative that Julia is working on her master’s thesis at NASA.

Its participants, however, are not paid by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. For example, Julia’s work is financed by as many as four organizations mentioned above. It is worth noticing, that she had to find these partnerships herself.

When asked about advice for young Poles who dream of a similar career, Julia answers:

Przede wszystkim, ważne jest, aby ludzie wiedzieli, że osiągnięcie swoich marzeń jest możliwe. Kiedyś myślałam, że praca w NASA bez obywatelstwa amerykańskiego jest niemożliwa. Nawet jeśli teraz coś wydaje się nieosiągalne, świat się zmienia i może za kilka lat sytuacja będzie wyglądać inaczej. Może to nawet właśnie my możemy zostać powodem tej zmiany. Ważne jest także, aby wierzyć w siebie i dążyć do realizacji swoich marzeń. Świetnym sposobem jest uczestniczenie w konferencjach, poznawanie ludzi, budowanie społeczności i tworzenie sieci kontaktów. Dzięki temu można dowiedzieć się o różnych możliwościach, które nie zawsze są ogólnodostępne w Internecie. Oczywiście, ważne jest również, aby ciężko pracować nad własnym rozwojem i zdobywać umiejętności potrzebne do osiągnięcia swoich celów. Na przykład, warto zastanowić się, jakie staże czy projekty mogą pomóc w zdobyciu doświadczenia, które przybliży nas do pracy w NASA, czy też jakie uczelnie i koła naukowe warto rozważyć. Skupienie się na budowaniu swoich umiejętności, rozwijanie sieci kontaktów i nie poddawanie się w dążeniach do celu są kluczowe do realizacji marzeń.

Interview with Julia Stankiewicz, [1]

On the occasion of space, it is also worth to mention an initiative currently operating in Poland, which aims to discover the previously unknown to humanity recesses of the universe. POLSA (Polish Space Agency), which is a subcontractor of the Ministry of Development and Technology, was established in 2014. It is responsible, among others, for cooperation with international agencies as well as state administration. It also conducts research on the potential use of satellite technologies in the economy [2].

As Julia Stankiewicz writes in correspondence with Joanna Rancew, one of our editors, who is also responsible for scientific partnerships of the Coopernicus Platform:

I am incredibly happy that I’ve joined the group of Poles who are currently working at JPL!

Julia Stankiewicz

We wish Julia a successful path at NASA. Undoubtedly, her hard work has been appreciated.

Article article authorized by Julia Stankiewicz.


  1. An interview published by MakeWay on 20th of April 2023; Title: Young Polish Woman in a space elite. From dreams to NASA – the story of an amazing success.; Author: Michał Wiktorowicz; access: 21st of April 2023; URL: https://makeway.pl/kosmiczne-osiagniecia-polki?fbclid=IwAR3OQ7fkov0rNy1IIhqg1NzkYoNj9q8n4i6_B6GDPVnecijTO4f1rSLzcDk
  2. ”About POLSA”; URL: https://polsa.gov.pl/o-nas/; access: 24.04.2023
Magdalena Marynowska
A student of law and international relations at the University of Warsaw, a multiple laureate of literary competitions, including poetry contests. I gained editorial experience as a leader of the social project “Nie Dotykaj Mnie,” where my main task was creating educational content for the project’s social media. I also had the opportunity to co-write the script for an educational film within the project. After the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, I worked as an Operations Specialist at the non-profit organization Student Initiative for Education, where my responsibilities included developing partnerships with cultural and entertainment centers throughout Poland and co-organizing events for Ukrainian children and youth. Privately, I am a PADI Advanced Open Water Diver.
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Magdalena Marynowska

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