The 2019 CHCI American Dream Medallion of Excellence in Education, Science, Medicine, or Civil Rights will be awarded to Dr. Ellen Ochoa.


For over 30 years, Dr. Ellen Ochoa has dedicated her life’s work to being a research engineer, astronaut and leader, making history and helping lay the foundation for students in STEM and higher education.

In 1993, Dr. Ochoa became the first Hispanic-American female astronaut and, in 2013, she became the second female and first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Dr. Ochoa has been recognized with numerous accolades including NASA’s highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for senior executives in the federal government, and has six schools named for her. She serves on several boards and chairs the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. She continues to support and advocate for the advancement of women and underrepresented minorities in professional, academic and civic spaces.

“I’m humbled by this recognition from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute – it has been my privilege and pleasure, through being a part of the NASA team, to more broadly inspire women and the Hispanic community to reach for the stars,” said Dr. Ellen Ochoa.