McDonald’s Reunites with Crew Alum Turned Astronaut, Katya Echazarreta, for the HACER® National Scholarship Program

Katya Echazarreta

November 03, 2022

The first Mexican-born woman in space will participate in a series of education workshops, mentoring Hispanic students along the way for the opportunity to receive up to $100,000 in scholarship funds—applications now open at

(CHICAGO – Nov. 3, 2022) 3…2…1…With college application season taking off, McDonald’s USA is helping Hispanic high school seniors reach for the stars with the HACER® National Scholarship. This year, in addition to awarding half a million dollars in scholarship funds to 30 stellar applicants, the Golden Arches is recruiting Katya Echazarreta, a former McDonald’s crew member who recently made history as the first Mexican-born woman in outer space, for her biggest mission yet: inspiring Hispanic students to pursue their higher education dreams.

The McDonald's HACER® National Scholarship is one of the largest programs committed to college scholarships and resources for Hispanics. In addition to offering financial assistance, McDonald’s will feature Katya as a guest speaker on this year’s HACER® Education Tour across high schools in select U.S. cities, and as host of in-person and virtual mentorship sessions.

Katya joins this year’s program to support the company as it helps bridge the educational gap for students. While her educational journey was not a straight shot, the first-generation college student attributes her success to hard work and building a strong support system. Through this program, she aims to connect with students over shared challenges to instill in them the confidence que si se puede and that college is within reach.

“Reuniting with McDonald’s for the HACER National Scholarship is a very special full-circle moment. As a former crew member, I learned the importance of connecting with people and rising above challenging situations, valuable life skills that helped shape my approach towards becoming an astronaut,” said Katya Echazarreta, Electrical Engineer. “As a Latina in STEM, I initially didn’t have many people to turn to for advice, especially when it came to education.  I look forward to meeting  students across the country and inviting them to push beyond what they believe are their own limits. After all, I’ve learned the sky is far from the limit.”

As a Latina in STEM, I initially didn’t have many people to turn to for advice, especially when it came to education.  I look forward to meeting  students across the country and inviting them to push beyond what they believe are their own limits. After all, I’ve learned the sky is far from the limit.”

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Meet Katya Echazarreta

A former McDonald’s crew member who recently made history.

Education Workshops

Katya will join the McDonald’s HACER® Education Tour, now in its tenth consecutive year, during three tour stops at select high schools in Las Vegas, Nev., Los Angeles, Calif., and El Paso, Texas, to shine a light on how perseverance and passion for learning helped shape her journey towards becoming a NASA electrical engineer. 

The education workshop series will give participating students access to motivational speakers from Cool Speak, the leading youth engagement company in the country, in addition to resources for navigating the college application process, including information on financial aid, writing workshop, and more.

Mentorship Sessions

Katya will also host a series of 1:1 in-person mentorship sessions with Hispanic college-bound students at select McDonald’s restaurants starting November through January. High school students nationwide will also have the opportunity to participate in a virtual mentorship session with Katya on January 25.

“The Golden Arches are shining extra bright as we welcome Katya back into the McDonald’s family. Our crew members are out of this world, and we’re proud to see an alum shatter glass ceilings while making the seemingly impossible, possible,” said Richard Castro, a McDonald’s Owner/Operator and national HACER® scholarship chairperson. “As a leader who continuously inspires others to follow their dreams, we can’t think of anyone better suited to help us encourage future college students to apply to the HACER National Scholarship.”

For 37 years, McDonald’s and its Owner/Operators have helped serve up bright futures for more than 17,000 students through the HACER® National Scholarship, investing more than $33 million to help them attend college. It is one of McDonald’s many company initiatives created to educate the next generation of youth including the Black & Positively Golden® Scholarships for students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the McDonald’s/APIA Scholarship program for Asian and Pacific-Islander American students. Additionally, the Archways to Opportunity® program for crew gives eligible employees at participating U.S. restaurants the ability to earn a high school diploma, receive upfront college tuition assistance, access free education/career advising services and learn English as a second language.

The scholarship application period for the 2022-2023 academic year is now open through Feb. 6, 2023. Hispanic college-bound students and their parents are encouraged to visit for additional college resources in English and Spanish and details on how to apply for the McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship.



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Katya Echazarreta is a Mexican-American electrical engineer, science communicator, and civilian astronaut who at only 26 years old, flew to the edge of space as a member of Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin’s NS-21 spaceflight mission. She was selected from a pool of 7,000 applicants from more than 100 countries as a Space for Humanity Ambassador based on her outstanding achievements in the space industry.

Katya’s partnership with the McDonald’s HACER® National Scholarship is a full-circle moment for the engineer, as she worked at her local McDonald’s as a partial breadwinner for her family when she was in high school. The first-generation college student earned her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from UCLA while on a scholarship and is currently on the way to earning a Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University, all while inspiring and encouraging young Latinos across the country to pursue their dreams!