I am an explorer and storyteller. Throughout history, there were many explorers who share my surname including on Columbus voyages. Through genealogical research, I have traced my families back for several generations in Puerto Rico. My parents were born on the Enchanted Island and grew up in Harlem during the Great Depression. By coincidence, they both lost their fathers when they were young. Their mothers had to figure out how to keep their families together during those rough economic times. I grew up on the stories of my parents struggles.My parents worked hard to give their children a better life. Education was important. They moved from inner city to housing project into a house in South River, New Jersey. It was a small town with open spaces I loved to explore. It also had excellent public school teachers who provided me with a solid foundation for my future in science, sports, history, literature, and geography. I wanted to be an astronaut so I joined Civil Air Patrol as a teenager. I learned how to fly an airplane — Piper Cub — before I learned to drive a car.I attended Douglass College at Rutgers University where I took advantage of the Individual Major option to combine any course related to space science. During my Astronomy class, I introduced myself to the professor who 3 years later helped me get a job at Princeton Universitys Astrophysics Department. The day after graduating from college I was hired to work on a satellite project — OAO-3C. I was in the space industry and interacted with major figures in astrophysics. Dr. Lyman Spitzer was the Chairman and later became known as the Father of the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Ed Weiler was also part of our team so for 30 years I could spot him on television during major planetary expeditions.While working at the university, I earned my pilots license at Princeton Airport. It was thrilling to be in control of a machine that gave me a beautiful aerial view of my daily landscape. I also drove to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina a few times to take hang gliding lessons. Just inches above the ground gave me an incredible feeling of flight reminiscent of Superman. Since then I have flown in a hot air balloon, a Breezy, a blimp, and a World War II bomber as well as indoor skydiving.I witnessed two space shuttle launches before I moved to Houston to work at the NASA-Johnson Space Center to develop software for the space shuttle flight controllers. I was part of the team to shift the Mission Control Center (MCC) from paper to computers. I saw astronauts from every U.S. space program. Later, I was responsible for uplinking documentation from the MCC to International Space Station astronauts and cosmonauts. Although I never became an astronaut, I was an active participant in space history.Contact a speaker booking agent to check availability on Candy Torres and other top speakers and celebrities.