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UCF’s new Women of Aerospace Engineering club members said they are thrilled to extend their mentoring to other countries around the world.

“If we are able to talk to people in other countries, there’s really no limit to where we can go,” President of WAE Steph Mettler said

WAE, which was just started this fall, is focused on mental health and career prep for women studying aerospace engineering at UCF, according to the WAE Instagram page. The organization got to meet over Zoom with a space group of high school students from Rabat, Morocco, Nov. 16.

Mettler said it was amazing to see how WAE could be role models for the younger generation of space students. She said members of the club being able to directly converse with students from Morocco made her proud, and she was surprised to see their small university group able to make an impact on high school kids from Morocco.

“I never imagined reaching other countries and being able to have a zoom call with them about their passions about space,” Mettler said.

The UCF aerospace engineering junior said she was the one who had first contact with the student space group from Morocco. Marwa El Alaoui, a second-year student at Youssef High School in Rabat, Morocco, said created her own space group among her classmates. Mettler said El Alaoui reached out to her via Instagram to set up a Zoom meeting, so she and her classmates could talk to WAE about all things space.

During the Zoom meeting, the groups discussed answers to the questions submitted by El Alaoui and her classmates prior to the meeting; then the WAE members opened the floor to more questions from the high school group. While answering their questions, WAE members focused on giving advice and preparing the Moroccan space enthusiasts for what’s to come.

El Alaoui said she wants to become an astrophysicist one day, saying there are not many opportunities in Morocco she can get.

“I am the girl who was disturbing you all the time,” El Alaoui said to WAE in the Zoom meeting. “I want to know what’s your point of view of our club, or if you have any more activities or ideas of activities that we can do in a club.”

A WAE member and mechanical engineering senior Cassandra Fraley said the biggest thing for the space group to do is to make sure they work as a team and come together to support each other. She advised them to bond, to “have those movie nights” watching space films and to talk about their future career interests.

Aerospace engineering senior Darina Khater, who is originally from Lebanon, suggested the students might be able to get college credit if they eventually choose to study abroad in America.

The American university situated in Morocco is Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane. This university runs on the American university system, and English is the language of instruction according to the university website.

“If you attend a Moroccan American university, your credits will be transferred when you want to come to America and that’ll give you the ability to work here,” Khater said to them.

With a warm expression of gratitude that Mettler said nearly brought her to tears, El Alaoui closed the meeting. She said everyone in her group felt over the moon to get to talk to and hear from the UCF WAE members on various aerospace topics.

“I’m grateful for you,” El Alaoui said. “That was one of my favorite days ever. I have never had some day like that, and to talk to you was just perfect.”

Mettler said she is prepared to continue to be open to making more connections like this one that could lead WAE to further similar opportunities. She said she is committed to growing the UCF space group steadily over the next few semesters.

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