Embry-Riddle Student is Sure to Shine at NASA: Isabella Novo

Embry-Riddle senior Isabella Novo (‘23) has always wanted to become an astronaut. Now, after landing a position at NASA, she is one step closer to that dream coming true.

Isabella Novo ('23) at NASA, where she works on the life support system for the International Space Station. (Photo: NASA / Isabella Novo)
Isabella Novo ('23) at NASA, where she will work on the life support system for the International Space Station. (Photo: NASA / Isabella Novo)

The day Isabella Novo applied to attend Embry-Riddle was also the day she first heard of it. But as someone who has dreamed of floating amongst the stars since childhood, she was immediately drawn to the curriculum, like-minded students and the campus’ proximity to the space coast in Florida.

“It’s not too big and it’s not too small. I’m surrounded by the most brilliant student body,” she shared. “When I leave here, I’m so desensitized to the fact that everyone here just talks about things like propulsion, math, aeronautics and everything. I don’t think I’d find this experience anywhere else... I don’t think I’ve seen as advanced of a student body as the brains here.”

The Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

On top of her dedication to university coursework in Computational Mathematics, Novo became a member of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). Today, she is secretary of the on-campus organization. Her drive to succeed and enthusiasm are what got her there.

“Before becoming secretary, I had another position. I threw myself into it! The first meeting I went to, I rose my hand and I applied for the position. Honestly, SHPE has been the greatest experience I have had on campus,” she gushed. “I’ve met the greatest friends, I’ve excelled professionally, academically and socially... Honestly, I owe all the internships, all the job offers and the current job I have now to SHPE.”

Near the end of 2022, Novo attended the SHPE convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is an opportunity for members to meet and potentially interview with over 200 STEM-oriented companies. Of 41 Embry-Riddle attendees, 93% took part in at least one interview at the conference. Novo left the convention with six job offers, all from top organizations. From NASA, she got something else: an opportunity to fly to Houston for a second interview. “Leaving out of there, 10-year-old me was like, Whaaat, that’s incredible, finally,’” she remembered.

Career Building at NASA

After two more “grueling” interviews, NASA offered her the position. Thinking back, Novo said, “When they told me, I was able to sit back and look at all the hardships I went through and overcame and saw this was the fruits of my labor... I think that day I didn’t even do anything crazy. I just… simmered and sat with my emotions. I was just like ‘let me soak up this moment.’”

At NASA, Novo will be working on the life support system for the International Space Station. But her final goal is still the same: to become an astronaut. "That's my long-term goal,” she shared. “I’ve always had an issue, where I can see very far in the future and I can see right now, but I can’t see anything that’s in the middle. But now that I have this position, I can see what’s in the middle.”

The Key to Success at Embry-Riddle

Novo’s advice to other college students pertains to confidence, open-mindedness and getting out of your comfort zone.

“Do not compare yourself to other people… I found that comparing myself to other people only brought my self-esteem down. I just needed to look inward and think okay, what can I learn? Not what am I good at. How can I propel myself forward and just throw myself out there?” she said.

“Literally throw yourself out there. Join organizations, put yourself in uncomfortable situations, don’t ever cut yourself short… It’s going to look like you hit a rock wall, but there’s always more room, there’s always another corner somewhere else.”