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From Georgetown to NASA: The Inspiring Journey of Guyanese Planetary Scientist Keanna Jardine

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Meet Keanna Jardine, a US-based Guyanese planetary scientist, whose story will inspire you to reach for the stars, quite literally.   Keanna’s journey from Georgetown, Guyana, to NASA’s research team at Arizona State University stands as a testament to her resilience and ambition. Notably, she made history as the first Black woman to graduate with a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Central Florida, a significant achievement given her humble beginning.

Keanna’s interest in stars began from gazing at the skies in her grandmother’s yard in Guyana. However, opportunities for pursuing a career in astronomy and planetary science were scarce in her homeland.  At the age of ten, Jardine moved to the United States with her parents, Anthony and Osnah Jardine.  Her educational path took her through the American education system, from middle school to high school, and then college.  She attended Adelphi University and the University of Central Florida, where she earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in Physics with a specialization in Planetary Science.

Reflecting on her path, Jardine told News Roam Guyana, “Living in Guyana, you don’t see a path to these career opportunities, and so when I moved, my goal was not to focus on astronomy, physics, or planetary science at all, but as I moved through my studies, opportunities arose and let me come full circle back to what my initial interest was growing up in Guyana.”

Keanna working in the lab s part of the Bridge Program.

Throughout her academic journey, Keanna was part of various STEM programs that opened doors to countless opportunities. Life also threw its fair share of challenges at Keanna. During her sophomore year in college, she experienced the heart-wrenching loss of her mother in a tragic car accident in Guyana. The family never found justice for the accident, but for Keanna, this devastating moment became a defining one.

“The biggest challenge was losing my mom. She died here in Guyana; that was a challenge then and it still is now,” Keanna shared.

Her family and a supportive professor rallied behind her, urging her to persevere. She pushed through the grief and continued her academic journey, a testament to her resilience and determination.

As Keanna prepares to join NASA’s research team to study the OSIRIS-Rex samples, her journey is a testament to the limitless potential within each of us. From the streets of Georgetown to the frontiers of space exploration, Keanna Jardine is a shining example of what can be achieved when passion, perseverance, and purpose align.


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