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Lyles College of Engineering

Photo of Juanita Leal

Juanita Leal, 2021 Outstanding Alumna Award

Before she went on to work for NASA and The Boeing Company, Juanita Leal spent her childhood watching airplanes fly overhead, dreaming one day she would be a pilot or an astronaut.

“I have had a passion for space since I was 4, along with a desire to be a pilot, so it’s been a dream come true to be able to work on space shuttles, to work on the International Space Station components,” Leal says. “I always watch [the space station] fly by and think, ‘I worked on that and it’s still up there, providing benefits and more science.”

Leal was born in west Texas to a farmworker family. They moved to California’s Central Valley when she was just over a year old. She grew up in Del Rey and Sanger and later attended Fresno State, where she was originally a computer science major.

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