Captain Haida StarEagle, First Female Native American Intelligence Officer in the Space Force, Speaks from the Heart at Queensborough’s Fifth Annual Spring Student Symposium

Published: May 10, 2024

Captain Haida StarEagle in uniform“Word on the street is this is one of the most diverse colleges in the nation!” said guest speaker Captain Haida StarEagle, US Intelligence Officer in the Space Force, to a full house during Queensborough’s Fifth Annual Student Spring Symposium held on May 3. “More than 100 countries and 70 languages from around the globe--this is a college I want to be part of.”

Indeed, hers is a distinguished contribution to diversity in the nation. Captain Haida StarEagle is the first female Native American Intelligence Officer in the Space Force.

The Spring Student Symposium is a celebration of Queensborough’s diverse, inclusive community—an opportunity to highlight faculty-mentored students’ coursework, research, and creative work in Biological Sciences and Geology, Nursing, Chemistry, Health, Physical Education and Dance, Social Sciences, Business, Kupferberg Holocaust Center, Art & Design, Physics, Math & Computer Sciences, Engineering Technology, High Impact Practices and Faculty Presentations.

This year, participants were welcomed to the Student Spring Symposium by Co-Chair of the Planning Committee, Dr. Sarbani Ghoshal, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences and Geology. Remarks were given by Research Programs Director, Dr. Ron Nerio, CUNY Office of Research.

Dr. Phyllis Curtis-Tweed, Provost and Vice President, Academic Affairs, offered greetings on behalf of President Christine Mangino saying that, “This has been an amazing year for undergraduate research at Queensborough. Many thanks to all participants and those who made this day happen.” The numbers are impressive. There were 142 student presenters mentored by 61 faculty members. 85 student presentations and seven faculty members presented talks related to their pedagogy research.

Captain StarEagle also has a number to celebrate. She announced –to loud applause--that June will mark her 20 years of service in the United States Military.

When Captain StarEagle was introduced, she took the podium in her military fatigues, and looked directly at the students offering this advice: “Remember to speak up for yourself, articulate your needs and network because you never know who you might meet that can open a world of opportunities.”

This is what saved Captain StarEagle from the path she was on—one brave question launched her journey in a new direction.

Her life up until then was painful. Abusive parents, moving from one state to another, being bullied at school, being caregiver to her younger siblings. “I used to look up at the night sky, longing for something bigger and better.”

In fourth grade Captain StarEagle met Astronaut Mike Mullane at the Space Grant Consortium held at Northern State College in Aberdeen, South Dakota. She approached him and asked, “How do I get to be like you, sir?”

“If you are micro-focused on your goals and determined to follow your passion you will break from the pack and be unstoppable,” he replied.

“His advice changed the course of my life. That, and people who started showing me the kindness and support I needed to build my self-confidence and ambition.”

Helping students feel embraced by a culture of care is Queensborough’s mission.

In 2004, when Captain StarEagle reached young adulthood, she enlisted in the Airforce. About 11 and a half years later, in 2015, she was selected to the Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program (SLECP) Air Force and Space Force. In 2021, she graduated from the Airforce and was promoted to Space Force Intelligence Officer. During this time, she earned an associate degree in information systems technology and a bachelor's degree in aerospace studies.

Despite her professional achievements Captain StarEagle has experienced the vicissitudes of life. Her deployments have taken her to the Middle East and Central America. She has lost friends and seen others injured. She has struggled with mental health and received a devastating diagnosis of brain aneurysms. She cracked a smile, “I know I’m on the clock, but I’ll keep going as long as I can.”

“I feel honored to make a difference through my career and know my position is a great responsibility. I hope to inspire other indigenous children that they too can have a dream career. And I hope I have inspired the students here at Queensborough. Believe in yourself! You are all rock stars!”

Deep appreciation to Co-Chairs Sarbani Ghoshal, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences and Geology, Roumen Vragov, Assistant Professor, Business, and all members of the Spring Student Symposium Planning Committee- Rezan Akpinar, Associate Professor, Health, Physical Education and Dance, Andrew Bulawa, Associate Professor, Mathematics and Computer Science, Patrick Byers, Assistant Professor, Psychology, Adjunct Professor Jennifer Chabra, General & Inorganic Chemistry, Christina Denny, E-Tutoring Co-Ordinator, Dr. Paul J. Sideris, Chemistry, Regina Sullivan, Associate Professor, Biological Sciences and Geology, Meg Tarafdar, Associate Professor, English and Dr. Zhou Zhou, Assistant Professor, Chemistry. Special thanks go to Research Programs Director, Dr. Ron Nerio, CUNY Office of Research for his ongoing support of Queensborough’s Undergraduate Research.


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