Apurva Varia (he/him) was inspired to become an aerospace engineer after seeing the space shuttle launch on TV while he was in the ninth grade. After that launch, he wrote a letter to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas asking if the space program would ever accept individuals like Apurva into the astronaut corps. They responded saying “Sorry, but we’re not ready to accept Deaf astronauts.” In lieu of becoming an astronaut, Apurva proceeded to receive a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology and a Masters of Science in Aerospace Engineering at Syracuse University. Even despite NASA’s rejection, he never gave up on his dream to go to space, instead joining NASA and eventually becoming a mission operations director for several spacecraft.
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