India Jackson, a student in Georgia State University's (GSU) physics doctoral program, was offered an internship at the space agency's field center in Houston. Despite being offered a stipend, Jackson said she wouldn't be able to cover travel, housing and living expenses for her and her 12-year-old daughter, Jewel. "I have to pay for rent in two places now, I have to rent a car, I have food, I have my child. What am I going to do?" she told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
After thinking of ways to come up with enough money to cover her expenses, Jackson's cousin Dasha Fuller encouraged her to create a GoFundMe account last week with a goal of $8,000.
One day after she launched her fund-raiser, online contributors raised $8,510. "It really caught me off guard," Jackson said. "It was amazing and it was overwhelming, and I was just blown away."
With help from GoFundMe, she purchase her plane tickets and extended her stay in Houston.
As part of her internship, Jackson will analyze high-intensity radiation events and predict solar flares.
After receiving a bachelor's and master's degrees in math from GSU, she taught math at several colleges in Atlanta. Jackson's desire to pursue a career in physics and astronomy led to her doctorate studies at GSU. "Something that I absolutely wanted to do was work for NASA," she said.
Juggling a demanding advanced degree program while parenting presented Jackson with a slew of challenges, but she managed with the support of her family. "When things have to get done, they have to get done," she said. "I'm just blessed enough to be living in a time where everything is technology-driven, and this GoFundMe account was able to reach people around the world in order to help my cause."
Once she completes her doctorate program, Jackson plans to work in space travel. "I want to go to the International Space station," she said. "People think that I'm crazy. … They think that it's impossible, but people also thought that it was impossible to do the things that I've done this far."