Student’s Shift in Career Aspirations Leads to Internship

Monica Saraf is currently working on the SCaN NASA Cloud Architecture. She is an advocate for women in technology and studies cybersecurity at Purdue University. 
Monica Saraf is currently working on the SCaN NASA Cloud Architecture. She is an advocate for women in technology and studies cybersecurity at Purdue University.

‘As a four-year-old, Monica Saraf repeatedly played the ‘Big Space Shuttle’ DVD that her parents had gifted her. As she watched, her interest in space grew. Monica learned about the heat capacity and assembly of tiles on a shuttle, the NASA Neutral Buoyancy Lab, and the women who have ventured to space. 

‘I lost track of the number of times I watched it. It all fascinated me to the point that I made the decision: I was going to become an astronaut one day,’ Saraf said. 

Throughout her elementary years, Saraf daydreamed about becoming an astronaut. She even attended camp at the NASA Kennedy Space Center. 

Cybersecurity

Despite quickly declaring her dream role, as she grew older, Saraf’s interests changed. There was a shift in focus from exploration to cybersecurity. While in middle school, Saraf participated in cybersecurity programs and competitions, fueling her new passion. 

In high school, Saraf discovered NASA’s cybersecurity internships, leading back to her previous passion for the agency’s work. With the help of mentors, Saraf applied and was accepted for her first internship. 

‘It’s an absolute honor and privilege to be working for an agency that puts not only its employees first, but also its interns. We’re here to help make a difference, and our mentors make sure we know that. Every one of us is given a project that can truly impact the agency, and the support necessary to do so,’ she said.

Blending Cybersecurity and NASA

Saraf decided to return to NASA every summer since her initial internship. She is interning with the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program for the fourth time. 

The SCaN Internship Project (SIP) allows students to perform hands-on training with real mission scenarios, analyze powerful space communication systems, utilize network software tools, and effectively communicate their findings in a final presentation to NASA management.  
The SCaN Internship Project (SIP) allows students to perform hands-on training with real mission scenarios, analyze powerful space communication systems, utilize network software tools, and effectively communicate their findings in a final presentation to NASA management.

‘It means a lot that I get to participate in an internship where I feel valued. Being someone who has dreamed of working at NASA for most of her life, my past NASA internship experiences do not disappoint. They have given me even more reason to continue to work hard in my field and learn as much as I can,’ she said. 

If you are looking to start exploring, visit our website for more information about internship opportunities available and qualification requirements. Need help getting ready for a NASA internship? Check out 10 Ways to Prepare for a NASA internship. 

Carolina Rodriguez, STEM Engagement Communications Intern
Claire O’Shea, STEM Engagement Communications Intern, Editor
NASA Johnson Space Center

Navajo Intern Engineer Hopes to Inspire Native American STEM Students

As an American Indian College Fund ambassador and a Navajo engineer, Nylana Murphy aims to demonstrate to native students that the ‘world is for [them].’ 

Murphy first gained interest in NASA while learning about internships during the American Indian Science Engineering Society (AISES) National Conference: ‘a three-day event focused on educational, professional, and workforce development for Indigenous peoples of North America and the Pacific Islands.’ 

Following the AISES conference, MAIANSE, which seeks to increase American Indian and Alaska Native engagement in STEM through authentic NASA experiences, helped Murphy with a summer internship offer. 

Murphy used her networking skills to secure two additional NASA internships in the additive manufacturing research lab at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.  

‘An internship isn’t just a job — it’s a foundation. A foundation built for one’s success. My internships have helped me get to where I am. Without the great opportunity of hands-on communication, I wouldn’t be in the direction of aerospace,’ Murphy said. 

While working on the additive manufacturing project, Murphy gained hands-on technical experience within a team at the agency. During her internship, she also used three-dimensional printing for Inconel 625 powder, which plays a significant role in aerospace utility tasks.  

Along with her part-time internship, Murphy juggled life as a full-time student at Navajo Technical University, pursuing her degree in mechanical engineering with a concentration in additive manufacturing. 

Murphy hopes to use her degree and skill set to continue exploration and to inspire more Native American students in the world of STEM and NASA. 

‘There is a career for everyone, where their dreams can become reality. With a focus on education and the help of other technologically inquisitive Native students, those dreams WILL become a reality,’ Murphy said. 

Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to find information on eligibility and application steps. Or, for more inspirational stories about our interns, such as Mallory Carbon, check out some of our other intern features on our blog.

Carolina Rodriguez, STEM Engagement Communications Intern
Claire O’Shea, STEM Engagement Communications Intern, Editor
NASA Johnson Space Center

Pride, Dreams, NASA- Mallory Carbon

Mallory Carbon
Mallory Carbon

Mallory Carbon has dreamed of working at NASA since her childhood. Today, she is a former three-time intern, current analyst, and celebrating her first pride month all with NASA. This pride month, Carbon teamed up with NASA to come out to the world as a queer woman and offer a message of hope for those in the LGBTQ+ community. 

Courage and Pride

For Carbon, #PrideMonth serves not only as a celebration, but a time to educate others on LGBTQ+ history and call attention to the current challenges facing the community. 

‘Although we still have a long way to go, I can’t help but acknowledge that this is what progress looks like’ she said. Carbon hopes that members of the LGBTQ+ community can see those who have come forth this Pride Month as proof that queer people can dream big. 

‘Time and time again my experiences at NASA have shown me the value of showing up as your full self. Whether it was leading with my energetic and sparkly personality, sharing my experiences and love of the arts, or my identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, being myself has yet to lead me astray,’ Carbon said. 

As a matter of fact, it has opened more opportunities than she could have ever imagined. She now has the ‘courage to share all the things that made [her] different.’ 

NASA recently published a four-minute long #PrideMonth video, ‘Together We Rise,’ featuring Carbon and other employees. 

The NASA Ames LGBTQ+ Advisory Group participated in the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade as a part of an annual tradition. (NASA Ames Research Center).
The NASA Ames LGBTQ+ Advisory Group participated in the 2019 San Francisco Pride Parade as a part of an annual tradition. (NASA Ames Research Center).

Her Journey at NASA 

Carbon’s first STEM job was an internship with the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts team (NIAC) in the Space Technology Mission Doctorate (STMD). While with the NIAC team, Carbon says she enjoyed working on many projects including data analytics, public affairs, communication, and graphic design. 

Not only was Carbon a three-time intern with the NIAC team, but she was also involved with the NASA Promoting Agency Cross-Center Collaboration (PAXC), a student-run group meant to develop connections between interns across each center. At PAXC, Carbon was National Director and made history by leading alongside the first all-female national board.  

Currently, Carbon has fulfilled her goal of working at NASA as an analyst in the Strategic Investments Division (SID). 

The theme for the 2019 Houston Pride celebration was ‘The Summer of ’69,’ celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Space exploration and the importance of NASA to the Houston community was showcased throughout the festival and parade. (NASA Johnson Space Center).
The theme for the 2019 Houston Pride celebration was ‘The Summer of ’69,’ celebrating the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Space exploration and the importance of NASA to the Houston community was showcased throughout the festival and parade. (NASA Johnson Space Center).

This #PrideMonth, NASA celebrates the significant contributions of LGBTQ+ employees, respects their individuality, and recognizes their contributions to advance NASA’s priorities. 

We support the positive movement to promote self-affirmation, dignity, equal rights, build community and create awareness for diversity and gender variance. 

Despite the obstacles in achieving full acceptance and protections for the LGBTQ+ community, the progress made over the past decades has been significant, yet the work continues. Together we rise to achieve our goals as one. 

For more, check out the NASA LGBTQ+ Pride Gallery with stories from the community across NASA. Do you want to start your own internship journey at NASA? Visit our website for internship requirements and information about opportunities. 

 

Carolina Rodriguez/ NASA Johnson Space Center
Claire O’Shea/ NASA Johnson Space Center

 

All Within Reach, Proving It’s Possible- Brooke Alviar

Photo Credit- Brooke Alviar
Photo Credit- Brooke Alviar

For some, our inspiration and love for space came from staring at a starry night sky. Despite whether our views were impeded from the light pollution deep in the city, or it was full and brimming with unimpeded clarity, our minds would forever remember the child-like wonderment and emotions we felt. For many of our interns, this experience was much the same. Even for NASA Intern Brooke Alviar, who’s eyesight as a child was terrible, her dreams and aspirations to work at NASA came from admiring the stars.

Hopes and Dreams

At ten years old, her idea of working at NASA meant becoming an astronaut. While it felt out of reach, she held onto the idea. While she was in high school, her best friend’s mother was an engineer at NASA. Just knowing someone at NASA provided a big boost and the idea of just working at NASA became real and attainable. In college, Alviar applied for and received an internship position at Ames Research Center.

“When I finally had the honor of accepting an internship with NASA, I felt as though I myself was reaching the stars.”

Inspiration and Projects

When people think about NASA, they think of space exploration, science experiments in micro-gravity, or rocketry. However, NASA is more than that. For Alviar, when she took her first computer science class during her junior year of college, she understood more and more that innovations in space start on the ground with analytical thinkers and doers.

Currently, she works on a project that enables an optimized business process flow for procurement within NASA teams. She uses python skills and some UX/UI knowledge to develop an automated application which covered end-to-end tracking, approval, and notification of any item that was procured by a team or individual. This allows for improved documentation of an item’s whereabouts, greater transparency in the approval process for an item to be acquired by a team, and a time savings for those responsible for providing status updates for the item. Overall, it reduces the number of human touch points and increases the time savings for a lengthy business process.

How You Can Be a Part of NASA

Do the stars inspire you? Is there a part of you that looks above at the wonders and amazingness of the universe? Be a part of NASA as a NASA Intern! Visit our website for more information on current and future NASA Internship opportunities. Also, be sure to check out our NASA Internship blog. We have plenty of inspirational content posted there, as well as helpful articles, such as the best practices when applying for a NASA Internship.

Aspirations of An #ArtemisGeneration Pathways Intern- Jetro Gallo

Jetro Gallo, Spring 2022 Intern
Photo Credit- Norah Moran

What is an aspiration? According to Webster, an aspiration is the “strong desire to achieve something high or great.” While to some, there is nothing higher or greater than the stars. For Jetro Gallo, a Pathways Intern at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, his aspirations go even further by learning as much as he can now so that he can help others through eventual leadership and mentorship opportunities.

From the Beginning

Gallo’s professional background starts off in the Marine Corps. Serving as a platoon sergeant, he found that the most satisfying and fulfilling things was to give back to others. In one instance, he nominated a junior marine to receive a Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal. After going through the process, the nomination was accepted and approved and Gallo got the opportunity to present the medal at a ceremony. Gallo remembers the marine being stunned but thankful to see that he was recognized for his work.

Current Aspirations

Gallo’s path to NASA goes through the Pathways Internship program. This program offers a direct pipeline to full-time employment at NASA upon graduation. His first work rotation was in the ISS Procurement Office where he had a great amount of support from his mentors.

Once he becomes proficient at his job, he aspires to become the Manager or Deputy Manager of a whole office one. He believe these roles will satisfy a fulfillment in me to give back to others. During his time, he wants to develop a deep sense of understanding himself in terms of leadership and his abilities to provide ways to inspire, motivate, and propel the whole teams to move forward. This is all propelled by his drive to constantly find ways to continue growing, developing, and improving for the honor of serving the teams who look to him so that he can make sound judgments to propel NASA forward in all the agencies’ goals.

A Look Into the Future

So, what does the future hold? For starters, Gallo wants to fix the gap of students not thinking that they are capable. He also wants to help showcase their young minds so that they can achieve great things and spark their interest in the aerospace industry. Another aspiration of his is to establish a school in my birth country (Philippines). He would love to give back to birth country of the Philippines to inspire, motivate, and provide opportunities for the young citizens in his poverty-stricken province by assisting with their education.

How to Be a NASA Intern

What’s your aspirations? If you aspire to be a NASA Intern, check out our website for the requirements and application deadlines. For a head start, we created a piece on the 10 things you can do to prepare for a NASA Internship. Or check out our blog for more inspirational stories of all the amazing things our NASA Interns do.

3 Life Lessons From NASA Interns

NASA Internships provide students with valuable skills, knowledge, and wisdom to carry with them into their future careers. Here from three current NASA interns on what they took away from their own internships.

1. Don’t Limit Yourself, Jorge Levario-Delagarza

“I learned through my time at NASA to not constrain myself or limit myself to what I think I can do but instead to embark on challenges I do not know if I can accomplish,” Jorge Levario-Delagarz said. “There is a great opportunity for growth in taking on a challenge that is brand new to you. There is a lot of struggle in taking on a brand new challenge but there is also new skills waiting to be learned, new ways of thinking waiting to be developed and a new experience waiting to be lived.”

As a first-generation college student studying mechanical engineering at the University of Texas Arlington, Delagarza always dreamed of one day working at NASA. Delagarza currently works as a Fractional Thermal Runaway Calorimetry Engineering Intern supporting NASA’s Power and Propulsion Division.

Through his internship, Delagarza is researching ways to enhance the safety of manned space flight by preventing and controlling hazardous effects of Thermal Runaway batteries.

“When humans work together towards a common goal, it doesn’t really matter if the goal is a quarter of a million miles away or if there are only a few years to achieve it. Ambition and togetherness can help get the job done,” Delagarza said.

Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza
Credits: Jorge Levario-Delagarza

2. Passion is Powerful, Pia Sen

 “NASA has taught me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to as long as I remain passionate about my work,” Pia Sen said. “I am lucky enough to love my research, and NASA inspires me every day by creating an environment where everyone sees the beauty and exciting parts of science so even the everyday things feel like they contribute towards a bigger mission.”

After watching the movie, The Martian, as a freshman in college, Sen became fascinated with the study of space biology. Sen is now participating in her seventh NASA internship while attending George Washington University as a first year PhD student studying environmental microbiology. Sen currently works with the International Space Station integration group, finding new ways to track research on the space station.

“During my time at NASA, I’ve learned that there are so many moving parts that go into making science happen in space, and I’ve learned to appreciate the necessity of working with people of different backgrounds and expertise to make science happen smoothly in space,” Sen said.

Credits: Pia Sen
Credits: Pia Sen

3. Do Your Best Regardless of the Task, Dominic Tanzillo

“Not all of my tasks were scholarly and sometimes I have needed to clean supply closets, move boxes, or help with IT issues. These extremes have reinforced the idea that there is never a job too big or too small and to always fully engage with work,” Dominic Tanzillo said.

Growing up, Tanzillo was surrounded by stories and the excitement of NASA. His grandfather worked as an engineer during the Apollo Program by learning calculus from mail order catalogs.

“Stories from him and my mom watching the Apollo 17 launch have always stayed with me but my heart has always been in medicine.”

Tanzillo is currently a student at Duke University studying math and neuroscience, planning to pursue a career in space medicine. He now interns at Johnson Space Center in the engineering directorate, working to integrate biometric devices to measure the cognitive states of Air Force and NASA pilots.

“I have loved applying classroom lessons to the real world and learning that often, the clean black and white categories we learn in school are often a bit messier and fuzzier,” Tanzillo said.

Credits: Dominic Tanzillo
Credits: Dominic Tanzillo

Interns are playing a key role in the advancement NASA’s mission, exploration, and discovery.  Through the Artemis Generation, NASA is seeking to accomplish the goal of sending the first woman and first person of color to the moon. Are you interested in playing your own role by pursuing a NASA internship? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps.

Megan Hale / NASA Johnson Space Center

Research on Plants in Space Leads to Law Degree

‘Not only did I feel supported at all times, but I also felt encouraged to pursue my passions.’ Josie Pechous worked at NASA Kennedy Space Center as a Bioinformatics for Space Crop Production intern. Photo credit: (NASA /Josie Pechous).
‘Not only did I feel supported at all times, but I also felt encouraged to pursue my passions.’ Josie Pechous worked at NASA Kennedy Space Center as a Bioinformatics for Space Crop Production intern. Photo credit: (NASA /Josie Pechous).

As spaceflight exploration ventures deeper into our solar system, astronauts will need a fresh, sustainable food source to maintain health and wellness. Understanding how plants are affected in spaceflight enables researchers to optimize growing conditions for peak nutritional value and harvest index,’ Josie Pechous said.

While at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Josie worked as a Bioinformatics for Space Crop Production Intern. She compared transcriptomes of previous plant spaceflight missions to identify any genes or signaling pathways that may be useful for future successful space crop production. She began her internship researching spaceflight-induced stressors on the human body. With an interest in plants and nutrition, Josie sought information on how the right diet can boost astronaut health, performance, and wellbeing.

Josie also composed a literature review on microgreens: small, nutrient-dense plants requiring little horticultural demands. She highlighted their nutritional composition, growing conditions, and potential for sustaining life on long-range spaceflight missions to supplement the pre-packaged spaceflight diet.

Mentorship was integral in making Josie’s internship a rewarding experience. Christina M. Johnson assigned a project that worked with Josie’s career goals and encouraged her to direct research to areas that matched her interests.

‘Focusing on a subject that I was passionate about while supporting NASA objectives was such a gratifying experience. Further gratifying has been the continued connection between me and my mentor post-internship. Although over a year has passed . . . my mentor continues to support me,’ Josie said.

The first growth test of crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) aboard the International Space Station. The APH is a growth chamber on station for plant research. It uses LED lights and a porous clay substrate with controlled release fertilizer to deliver water, nutrients and oxygen to the plant roots. Photo credit: (NASA/International Space Station).
The first growth test of crops in the Advanced Plant Habitat (APH) aboard the International Space Station. The APH is a growth chamber on station for plant research. It uses LED lights and a porous clay substrate with controlled release fertilizer to deliver water, nutrients and oxygen to the plant roots. Photo credit: (NASA/International Space Station).

After Josie’s internship, her research was incorporated into a scientific article, ‘Large-Scale Crop Production for the Moon and Mars: Current Gaps and Future Perspectives.’ She recently attended the American Society for Gravitation and Space Research annual conference and presented on the advantages of microgreen carotenoid composition for space travel.

Josie completed her degree at Drake University in biochemistry and cell and molecular biology. She now studies at Vermont Law School, pursuing food and agriculture law and policy for a sustainable future.

Interested in becoming a member of the team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps. Want more content? Check out ten things you can do now to prepare for a NASA Internship.

Claire A. O’Shea / NASA Johnson Space Center

Mentorship is Vital to the Internship Experience

‘Our mentors, engineers, and people from other teams and projects were always accessible whenever we had roadblocks. They provided thorough feedback on our work and gave us a great technical experience.’ Kyndall Jones sitting in a cockpit at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The computer-science major at Howard University worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an software engineer and instrument operations intern. Photo credit: (NASA JPL/Kyndall Jones).
‘Our mentors, engineers, and people from other teams and projects were always accessible whenever we had roadblocks. They provided thorough feedback on our work and gave us a great technical experience.’ Kyndall Jones sitting in a cockpit at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center. The computer-science major at Howard University worked at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an software engineer and instrument operations intern. Photo credit: (NASA JPL/Kyndall Jones).

Despite the telework nature of this summer’s internship, Kyndall said that even from her home in Dayton, Ohio, she has been able to foster connections with JPL employees and gain valuable experience in her role working on software for an Earth-science instrument that will help NASA understand how different types of air pollution, which can cause serious health problems, affect human health.

And thanks to her mentor, Operations Systems Engineer Janelle Wellons, Kyndall was able to get the type of hands-on NASA experience that’s been hard to come by since the pandemic.

Photo credit: (NASA JPL Cal-Tech/Janelle Wellons).
Photo credit: (NASA JPL Cal-Tech/Janelle Wellons).

‘My mentor Janelle suggested that I come visit Los Angeles for a few days this summer, and I was finally able to visit and explore the city for the first time,’ Kyndall said. ‘I am also super grateful for her setting up a tour at the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center where we were able to view, tour, and learn lots of interesting facts about NASA’s historical aircraft.’

Janelle splits her time operating instruments aboard several Earth-observing missions. She has been  involved in previous years’ roundtable discussions with historically black colleges and university interns. Being from the East Coast herself, Wellons remembers having little awareness of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a potential career landing spot while studying at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

‘Getting visibility and actually partnering with these schools to make these internships happen is so important . . . [internships] benefit JPL by broadening the talent pool and diversity of our workforce,’ Janelle said.

While interning under Janelle, Kyndall worked on the Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols (MAIA) project. MAIA will make radiometric and polarimetric measurements needed to characterize the sizes, compositions and quantities of particulate matter in air pollution.

‘I can confidently say I wouldn’t have grown and learned as much as I have without their [mentors] constant feedback, support . . . and guidance.’

Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps. Want more content? Check out five important tips and words of advice from women interns in STEM.

Excerpts taken from the features writer for Internal Communications at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Taylor Hill, and his article on JPL Internship Program Expanding Diversity in STEM.

Claire A. O’Shea / NASA Johnson Space Center

 

 

Intern Hopes to Research the Neurological Health of Astronauts During Missions

‘It has been unlike any other time in my life. I wish I had known before my internship that every chance you don’t take is an opportunity lost. I could never have anticipated what I experienced this summer.’’ Sewall interns at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Photo credit: (NASA/Michaela Sewall).
‘It has been unlike any other time in my life. I wish I had known before my internship that every chance you don’t take is an opportunity lost. I could never have anticipated what I experienced this summer.’’ Sewall interns at NASA’s Langley Research Center. Photo credit: (NASA/Michaela Sewall).

As a freshly graduated high school senior with little technical experience in the field, Michaela Sewall contacted Chad Stephens and Dr. Alan Pope, research scientists at NASA’s Langley Research Center (LRC), after reading their published paper on  bio-cybernetic adaptation strategies for human operators interacting with machines or computers.

Curiosity

Michaela was curious about engineering, brain function, physics, space, and medicine — but she was uncertain on how to piece together these areas of study. After landing an internship at NASA’s LRC, she began working on psycho-physiological research for autonomous aviation in the In-Time System-Wide Safety Assurance as part of NASA’s Aeronautics Airspace Operations and Safety Program.

Interning virtually this past summer, Michaela drove to her father’s office in the morning and worked from his conference room. She would set up her Raspberry Pi, a small computer used to learn programming, and biosensors to conduct her research throughout each day.

The Study

‘Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you have.’ Michaela studies electrical engineering and neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis as an undergraduate sophomore. Photo credit: (NASA / Michaela Sewall).
‘Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you have.’ Michaela studies electrical engineering and neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis as an undergraduate sophomore. Photo credit: (NASA / Michaela Sewall).

She directed a study, ‘Investigating the Effects of Passive and Adaptive Bio-Cybernetic Two Dimensional and Virtual Reality Stimulus on Psychophysiological and Cognitive State Reactions,’ and coordinated a team of advocates to communicate complex engineering concepts to non-engineers.

‘It has been unlike any other time in my life. I wish I had known before my internship that every chance you don’t take is an opportunity lost.’

Goals

With goals to become a neuroengineer with a background in electrical engineering, neuroscience, and medicine, Michaela’s career aspirations involve researching the neurological, psychophysiological, and biological health of the astronauts before, during, and after their missions.

‘I have had the opportunity to speak to flight surgeons and center directors all because I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and asked for a few minutes of their time. Everyone is so willing to help and answer any questions you have.’

Do YOU want to be on the NASA team? Check out our website to learn more about the Artemis Generation and find information on eligibility and application steps. 

Claire A. O’Shea / NASA Johnson Space Center

Black History Month STEM Inspiration

Jackson State University, Lichelle Brown, currently interns with NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement
Photo Credit: Lichelle Brown

Stennis Space Center intern Lichelle Brown has always had her eyes on the sky. Growing up, Brown often visited NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, attended “space camps,” and even joined a robotics club. Through these experiences, her passion for science and exploration grew. However, her biggest inspiration and influence was George Washington Carver.

“George Washington Carver endured discrimination and racism throughout his entire career but he still persevered. He taught me that you have to work through the hard times even if you don’t get the credit you deserve,” Brown said.

Carver was an African American scientist and inventor whose work revolutionized the agriculture industry in the United States. Earning the nickname, “Plant Doctor,” Carver’s passion for the study of botany was evident from a young age. As the first African American to be awarded a Bachelor of Science degree, Carver continued his education and earned his Master’s Degree in agriculture science before accepting a position at Tuskegee Institute. As he revolutionized agriculture, Carver’s biggest contribution and success came from his research of the peanut. Although he is remembered as a pioneer of science, Carver’s passion was to help others and promote harmony.

Carver’s story and contributions inspired Brown’s passion and interest in the pursuit of STEM, which ultimately developed into her dream to work at NASA. As a Jackson State University student studying sociology, Brown is part of NASA’s Minority University Research and Education Project (MUREP) and is currently interning with NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement. By combining her interest in STEM and her passion to share it with others, Brown is already making history through her own life.

African American scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver has inspired many generations of students
Photo Credit: Frances Benjamin Johnston [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
“NASA has broadened my own perspective of life and science,” Lichelle Brown said. “I decided to become a sociologist to help others follow their life path. Through their inclusivity, they have shown me that there is a place for all parts of myself within NASA.”

Since starting her NASA journey, Lichelle Brown’s passions for innovation and exploration have only grown.

“NASA has made a place and an effort for people of color in the company,” Lichelle Brown said. “They work tirelessly to recruit HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) students and other minorities. NASA has shown that they value our presence within the workplace.”

Written By: Megan J. Hale