The Shooting Star: Nicole Cummings-Peterkin
Hometown: Miami, FL
Profession: Aerospace Engineer
Great inspiration can spark from the smallest moment. For Mechanical Engineering FAU Alumni, Nicole Cummings-Peterkin, that spark came when a Science, Engineering, Communication, Mathematics, and Enrichment (SECME) organization visited her high school.
“I didn’t know I had a love for science,” said Cummings-Peterkin, now a field and launch engineer at Aerojet Rocketdyne in Jupiter. “I figured out I had a talent for it when I got a chance to explore the science group.”
That one class has now led to a distinguished career, including “working with NASA making rocket engines for their space program,” says Cummings-Peterkin, who ranks her proudest moment as “watching a rocket launch for the first time.”
But the journey hasn’t been smooth as a woman in a male-dominated field. Faced with such challenges, she credits her success to the strong work ethic and determination instilled by her two Guyanese parents. “The heritage of my parents and grandparents is a disciplined culture that has put great values in me as a person,” said Cummings-Peterkin. “I look at all the sacrifices of my parents, those sacrifices helped me keep my eyes on the prize and go after what I wanted. They gave me all I needed to succeed.”
Cummings-Peterkin also hopes to give these same tools to the next generation of scientists, speaking at high schools around the county to help mentor other young ambitious students as they make decisions about their future. And, inspired by her own experience as a star-struck student, she has also volunteered as a speaker and mentor at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium’s GEMS Club (Girls Excelling in Math and Science), a free STEM program for girls from grades three to eight.
As for her advice to young Caribbean-Americans searching for their own passions, Cummings-Peterkin suggests to take a chance and “explore different groups to find out what you may like and may be good at.”