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Pakistani Woman’s Journey From Refugee Camps To NASA

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Hibah Rehmani was born in Pakistan but left for Kuwait with her family when she was only a month old. Days later, Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and the family had to flee to a refugee camp on Iraq-Jordan border. During their first night at the camp, the family did not have a tent so had to sleep in an open sky.

But sleeping in an open sky did come as a blessing in disguise, because Rehmani grew fond of stars and the endless sky. She is now an avionics engineer at the United States’ National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA).

“My fondest memory growing up is taking walks with my family at night. Looking up at the sky I was fascinated by the moon and the stars. It was around this time I developed a passion for science, space, and astronomy,” Rehmani said, according to a story published in Express Tribune.

Hibah’s father was in the United States (US) during the invasion. Eventually, Hibah, her mother, siblings and her father returned to Pakistan and stayed in the country for a year before moving to the US. That is where Hibah unlocked her true potential. After graduating, she starting working for Boeing, which assigned her to work at the Kennedy Space Center as a systems engineer for the International Space Station (ISS).

“It was then when I got more interested in this line of work and applied to NASA. I was fortunate and blessed enough to be selected by NASA,” said Rehmani, who now works as an avionic and flight controls engineer and support NASA’s Launch Services Program.

But sky is not the limit for the Pakistani born scientist. She says working with astronauts has inspired her to become one and that is one of her life goals now.

She also lauded Pakistani students and their curiosity about science. Rehmani, who is currently in Pakistan for a visit, said: “I am meeting so many school students in Pakistan and they have inspired me instead of me inspiring them. Their questions and interest in this field amazes me.”

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