Filipino-American Gregorio Villar III went from dreaming of becoming an astronaut while he was a college student in Baguio City to helping land NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars this week.
Villar said it's cliche, but pursuing one's passions never feels like work. He has been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 12 years and Perseverance is his most important project to date.
As a kid, Villar said he was fascinated with space movies like "Contact," "Apollo 13," "Armageddon" and "Independence Day." It was the turn of the millennium and Hollywood was looking to space.
"Although it is a cliche, it is very important to pursue something you love. I have worked at JPL for over 12 years, and there is rarely a day that I feel like I am going to work," Villar said in his NASA bio.
What excites him most about the Mars mission? "The thought of going there myself one day."
Villar finished high school at St. Louis University Laboratory High School in Baguio City. He took up physics at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and in his junior year, he scored a NASA scholarship.
He finished his Masters in Austronautical Engineering at the University of Southern California.