When a young Sabrina Pasterski informed her teacher at Aurora’s Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy that she had once flown a plane, the response she received was, “That’s nice, but what have you done lately?” Those words might sound gratuitously cutting had they not been so influential. That’s because for Pasterski, now a 23-year-old physics wunderkind and one of the most daring minds in modern science, they’ve become the mantra by which she strives to surpass her previous achievements.
Pasterski’s questing ambition began at an early age and is arguably in her blood. A first-generation Cuban-American who was raised in Chicago, she reportedly developed an interest in aviation and space travel at the tender age of four. Her father, meanwhile, is not only an attorney but also a pilot and an electrical engineer.
And it seems as if Pasterski’s parents were keen to cultivate her inquisitive mind from the offset. When she was just nine, for example, they began taking her to Canada so that she could have flying lessons – the age restrictions in the United States being too high.