The 29-year-old hydrologist earned her PhD in 2016, and joined the world-famous space agency in the US at the end of last month.
She told the BBC‘s Focus on Africa programme she will use her new job to give back to her country and the continent:
“I will say to them to not give up to keep going because everyone would think people from Niger, or a young girl from Niger, would not be able to do this. But just believe in yourself and find an environment that will support you,” she said.
Ms Maina said she is the only African in Nasa.
“You get used to it also I think we need to have more people coming from different backgrounds to be able to solve the problems that we are looking at – because different people will have different perspectives.”
A young man, Mac Sarbah who graduated from Harvard, Columbia and Cambridge Universities, despite having studied with kerosene lanterns in rural Ghana, walking several miles to school every day, and faced many odds, has a launched a company to give back and to provide a support system to help young people, especially those in Africa, realize their potential: in education, in entrepreneurship and in their careers.
Speaking about what motivated him to launch the company, Mac Sarbah said, “I am one of many kids from rural Ghana and Africa, who studied with kerosene lanterns, walked miles and faced many odds, but because of the support I received from God, teachers and professors, class and school mates, coworkers and managers, family and friends, I found myself at Legon, Columbia, Cambridge, and Harvard. Many other kids, from similar backgrounds, have been successful, because of effective support systems.”
“My journey has taken me to about 24 countries on 4 continents. Along the journey, I have met many young people who have gone wayward. Many bemoaned the support system they lacked. This is why I set up https://edacme.org,” he concluded.
There are fears of violence, and exacerbated mass migrations across the Mediterranean and the West for greener pastures.