- Studies: Student, Engineering Physics
- Métis Nation of British Columbia
Maranda Cherry is a third-year student at Queen's University studying in Engineering Physics with a specialization in Mechanical Engineering. She came to Queen's because of the Aboriginal Access to Engineering program headed by Melanie Howard. Cherry is currently the President of two rocket teams on campus: the First Nations Launch Team that is comprised mainly of Indigenous students and launches rockets up to 1.25 km into the air, and the Queen's Rocket Engineering Team with approximately 60–70 Queen's students that launches rockets to an altitude of 9 km.
She has always had a fascination with the sky, with it being so big and full of stars. Growing up when SpaceX gained recognition for launching rockets, she remembers the Falcon Heavy launch in . She always knew that she wanted to do something space-related, but wasn't sure if it was going to be rockets, physics or even astrophysics. But once she heard that BOOM and saw that rocket launch, she knew that was what she wanted to do.
The rocket that the First Nations Launch Team designed in was named Kanatakon'ha. It is a Mohawk word meaning both "
sparrow" and "
we come from the village." The name was gifted by Melanie's mother, who is a Mohawk linguist. It honors the Dish With One Spoon Treaty that includes the territory on which Queen's stands.
"As an Indigenous woman, especially in aerospace engineering where I am now, there is just me. To all those young Indigenous girls out there, keep that resilience! Don't be afraid to take initiative and look for opportunities and maybe even create your own."
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