LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Space and sports are two things without much in common, but to Vanessa Sanchez they mean everything.
"When I think of myself, it’s space and sports," said Sanchez, a senior star on the soccer and flag football fields at Chaparral High School.
"I just like to score, but I know the importance of defending. So, I just try to balance those two out," said Sanchez.
Between her fast feet and precision passing, you would never know Sanchez has only been playing competitive sports for a few years.
"She has a lot of speed, a lot of knowledge, a lot of willingness to learn. So that’s all I did was give her a few tips and then she adjusted, learned, and applied," said Durley Nolen, the head varsity soccer coach at Chaparral High School
In school, Sanchez is thriving. She is maintaining a perfect unweighted 4.0 G.P.A., despite taking at least 20 honors and A.P. classes combined.
"I guess you get that sense of urgency so there’s really no time to complain. You have to get to the homework right away," said Sanchez.
Sanchez is hoping all her hard work will one day translate to a career as a mechanical engineer and a dream job at NASA.
"I want to work with rockets and propulsion systems, so math and science is what it’s all about," said Sanchez. "If you make a mistake, those are peoples’ lives at risk. So that’s the only thing, but the actual math and physics, I love that."
Sanchez's coach can't imagine a world where Vanessa doesn't achieve her dreams.
"I don’t think she puts any of her goals out of reach. They are all in reach as long as she keeps doing what she’s been doing, which is working hard, willing to learn, and just pushing forward and doing the best that she can," said Nolen.
Sanchez says she's planning to apply to several Ivy League schools, with M.I.T. being her top choice. Regardless of where she ends up studying, she is confident she can use her education and work ethic to achieve her dream job at NASA.