When she aims for the stars, this Fresno City College top grad does so seriously

Amarisa González isn’t a NASA worker, but that hasn’t kept her from making significant contributions to the country’s space program as a community college student.

She experienced a G force of 845 pounds of pressure against her body to suddenly nothing all at once, keeping up with pilots from the Navy and Marine Corps who wrongly thought she was military.

She explored ways to improve NASA’s advanced air mobility opportunities and space flight missions.

González planned a lunar habitat mission on the moon to use water resources, cultivate plants to sustain life support systems, and learn how to inhabit the moon.

She even developed a drone that can assist in the event of hurricanes and presented it to a NASA panel. She obtained a third-class FAA pilot certification.

Her flight suit featured the flag of México in tribute to her family, who immigrated from the Mexican state of Jalisco.

“Getting into the NASA program here at Fresno City College opened my eyes even more and broadened my horizons,” said González, who graduated last Friday as the dean’s medallion from the college’s Math, Science and Engineering Division.

Amarisa González, of Sanger, graduated as the 2023 dean’s medallion from the Fresno City College Math, Science and Engineering Division at the May 19 commencement at the Ratcliffe Stadium.
Amarisa González, of Sanger, graduated as the 2023 dean’s medallion from the Fresno City College Math, Science and Engineering Division at the May 19 commencement at the Ratcliffe Stadium.

The 22-year-old González, a 2019 graduate of Edison High School, will transfer to UC Berkeley and major in molecular and cell biology with a minor in Spanish.

“Amarisa has taken some of the most challenging classes offered in STEM and earned A’s,” said Shirley McManus, dean of the Math, Science and Engineering Division. “She tutors biology and chemistry on campus. She has studied abroad in Costa Rica and Panamá to research cultural impacts on the health of citizens in third-world countries.”

McManus, during a May 11 ceremony honoring the dean’s medallion recipients, noted that González has had to overcome epilepsy, which developed when she was 18.

During her first semester of college, González was diagnosed with alexia, which affects a person’s ability to retain words and impacts writing skills, speech and comprehension.

González figured she would go into pre-med studies “to make a change in the community and in the world.”

“Throughout elementary, middle and high school, I was always planning to become a doctor,” said González, who was in third grade when she thought being a doctor was important.

That started to change when her biomedical instructor at Edison High assigned her to a debate about the ethics of human closing. She got put on the pro-cloning side.

“Well, we’re going to lose because everyone knows that human cloning is like unethical and bad,” she said. She researched gene editing and organ cloning and led her team to a debate win.

“I really fell in love with all of those concepts,” said González, who started getting into research and science and discovered her calling.

She recently completed a one-week class at the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences in the Advanced Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere Academy. The program prepares candidates to become astronauts.

“Once I obtain my degree from UC Berkeley for molecular and cell biology, I’ll officially be a scientist astronaut candidate,” said González. “I can continue to work in microgravity and conduct research up there as well.”

González, the daughter of car salesman José Vincent and nurse Christina Cervantes, plans on working more with NASA. She was the only community college student – and only Latina – who participated in the astronaut candidate program.

“If I’m up there in the (International Space Station) or in the lab here on the ground, as long as I’m making a change in my community or in the world, that’s all that matters to me,” said González.