When Danelle Lazcano-Concelman graduates from Colorado State University this month with her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, she will have earned a 3.39 GPA, completed two NASA internships, and served as a college ambassador and CSU Rocket Team project manager. In August, she starts work at NASA as a cryogenic propulsion systems engineer.
Not bad for someone who is the first in her family to go to college and took calculus three times just to be admitted to the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.
Born in Commerce City, Colorado, Lazcano-Concelman had completed her sophomore year at Adams City High School. Through CSU’s TRIO program, which teaches students to navigate a path to higher education, she participated in the Alliance Summer STEM Institute’s Renewable Energy Summer Camp program. This experience offered her a glimpse into her future; she knew she was destined to be an engineer, as she dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
Because of its low student test scores and graduation rates, Adams City could not provide the resources Lazcano-Concelman needed to enroll in a competitive college major. She had failed calculus, then received tutoring from a former CSU professor who taught calculus at Adams City. After she failed her second attempt to pass the course, an adviser suggested she explore other majors, but Lazcano-Concelman refused to give up. On her third try, she passed.
Lazcano-Concelman has been financially supporting herself since the age of 15, applying for federal student aid and securing scholarships to fund her education.
Once enrolled in the mechanical engineering program, Lazcano-Concelman found the Engineering Success Center. She leveraged resources such as tutoring sessions to stay ahead of her studies and job opportunities to help her pay tuition and living expenses. Eager to return the support she received, she became one of the center’s student mentors.
Her prestigious internships at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, proved to be life-changing experiences; they helped uncover her love of rocketry and changed her plan of pursuing a career in renewable energy to one in aerospace. This also led her to join CSU’s Rocket Team where, as project manager, she oversees projects, manages budgets, and executes marketing strategies.
“Nobody has worked harder than Danelle, and her success is inspiring to the entire CSU community,” said Anthony Marchese, associate dean for academic and student affairs in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering. “I would not at all be surprised if she fulfills her dream of becoming an astronaut.”
Lazcano-Concelman knows her future is bright, and the possibilities are endless.
She recalls her parents telling her, “the sky’s the limit” and “reach for the stars.”
“Here I am reaching past the stars,” she says. “I know the sky is no longer the limit.”