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Rape Survivor Overcomes Trauma To Become First Vietnamese Woman In Space — And Change The World

Amanda Nguyen smiles wearing an astronaut suit.

When Amanda Nguyen got an acceptance letter from Harvard, it seemed that her dream of becoming an astronaut could actually come true. This was all-the-more true once she secured an internship at NASA. But then, while at Harvard, she was sexually assaulted. Just like that, her entire world changed. She could continue on her path with NASA or choose to fight back for justice — she chose the latter. At that time, she didn’t know she’d not only become an astronaut one day but the first Vietnamese woman in space.

Before that could happen, though, Amanda made the difficult decision to put her dream aside. Her experience as a rape survivor showed her how much changed was needed. During this time, she learned that the government could destroy her rape kit (evidence of the assault), after six months, completely untested.

Amanda Nguyen smiles, arms out as she poses outside in the snow.

Rightfully appalled by this law, Amanda and others worked hard to re-write it. She did whatever it took to get it passed, including testifying in Congress. Word quickly spread of her efforts.

“Over a million survivors wrote around the world asking me to help,” Amanda shares. “People projected my face onto buildings as a symbol for survivors.”

Her efforts paid off when Congress unanimously passed the bill. Still, Amanda continued to fight for survivors, putting her astronaut dreams aside. In doing so, she got the UN to adopt the rewritten law, too.

Amanda Nguyen raises her arms in celebration. Her eyes are closed as she cheers, mouth open wide. Text on the image reads: The moment we won at the United Nations.

Amanda Nguyen’s Astronaut Dreams Come True, Making Her the First Vietnamese Woman in Space

Since 2016, Amanda has accomplished so much for rape survivors like herself. In doing so, she’s became a Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Time’s Woman of the Year in 2022. Still, Amanda never forgot her dreams with NASA. In fact, she pursued this dream again recently, holding onto hope that she’d go to space one day.

Amanda Nguyen smiles wearing an astronaut suit. Text on the image reads: I delayed my astronaut dreams again to help survivors.

“I don’t know if I’ll fly in space, but I am back on my astronaut journey, back home,” Amanda wrote in February.

Soon after making this post, however, Amanda got the best news! Space for Humanity is sponsoring Amanda’s dream to be an astronaut, making her the first Vietnamese woman in space!

For years, Amanda tirelessly worked to make the world a better place for rape survivors like herself. In doing so, she inspired countless people to never give up, even when the odds are against them. Now, she’s doing the same thing in making her astronaut dreams come true.

“I am thrilled to be partnered with Space for Humanity, not just for their support, but also their vision and values,” Amanda says. “Together, we’re committed to changing the way we all think about the cosmos, each other, and humanity’s future. I look forward to my journey to space as well as our continued journey to a brighter and better future.”

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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