In 1997, Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian American woman to travel to space.

“For me, it was very far-fetched to think I get to fly on the space shuttle, because I lived in India in a very small town, and forget about space, I didn't even know if my folks were going to let me go to the engineering college," Chawla told the Associated Press.

A proud immigrant and a woman of color, the aerospace engineer was a mission specialist on the Shuttle Columbia in 2003. Upon re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, the shuttle exploded, killing her along with six other crew members.

It’s been 20 years since the catastrophoic event and South Asian Americans like Jasmine Narine still regard Chawla as one of the most important people from India, a person who dared to dream and represent women and minorities in her field at the time.

“I just can't even imagine how that was for her to feel so alone and yet still push for the things that she loved to do," Narine said. "I think that shows incredible courage and strength."

Narine shared her admiration for Chawla and the doors she opened for women of color in space exploration.

Through the values instilled in her by her family and Indo Caribbean and South Asian culture, Narine has kept focused and grounded at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), where she is studying to become an aerospace engineer.

"I saw the Falcon heavy launch from the Space X, that successful launch and the successful reuse, reuse of the boosters, the way that those landed. I was in shock. I was in love," said Narine.

She looks forward to making an impact, something that will help the next generation of South Asian women and women everywhere.

“Sometimes I get scared, like, what if I can't do it? What if I'm going to be held down? What if I'm not going to be supported or I'm not going to be accepted? And then I see someone like her, and I'm like, 'She was able to do it,' so then I can do it," said Narine.