During Ying’s recent visit to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, she took a selfie with Ms. Curiosity–a full size model of Curiosity Mars Rover. She believes they share the same characteristic—always curious about what is going on in space, what is happening on other planets, and whether there is another Earth.
Shortly after birth, Courtney was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a form of eye cancer caused by a genetic defect. She became a patient at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Despite the numerous out-of-state trips for treatments by exceptional doctors and nurses, and the removal of the cancer itself, she eventually lost her eyesight completely around the age of five. But Courtney retained a vivid memory of shapes and colors. Despite her vision loss, she could turn the corner of any room into a spaceship or an alien planet.
Raymonda was born in Kiev, Ukraine and her family moved to Brooklyn, New York when she was 6 with only $1,500 to begin their life anew. Raymonda is a fifth generation member of a deaf family and started school in the United States at the age of 8, knowing no English.
Cynthia Simmons remembers her fascination with space started early in life watching TV shows like Star Trek. Watching the first moon landing gave her more reason to dream of designing spaceships like the Starship Enterprise. At night, she would look at the stars imagining herself traveling in space spending a lifetime exploring.
Judy Bruner grew up in rural Ohio, where she developed an early love of space and aviation, which would become the cornerstones of her future professional life. Her love of space began as she peered through a small telescope in the backyard looking at the moon and then followed NASA’s journey to the first moon landing.
Maybe it is not surprising that Deborah ended up in engineering. Growing up, she loved math and science in school. Algebra is one of her favorite things. There is also the influence of her family: her dad is an electrical engineer and her mom is a chemist.
For Bonnie Seaton, the path to NASA was anything but straight-forward. She initially studied nursing at the State University of New York at Buffalo and after three years of study realized that nursing was not the right career path for her.
While growing up in Puerto Rico, Julie Ann Rivera Perez never imagined she would work for NASA. Most people might say they could only hope or dream to work for NASA, but Ms. Rivera never even imagined it would be her who would eventually get a job in what is now the #1 Place to Work in the Federal Government.
For Mary Ann, her path to NASA began as a cooperative education (co-op) student in 1974. She hailed from the University of Maryland in College Park as she found her place at NASA. Little did she know that she would lead two careers, one at NASA and one in the Navy Reserve.
The opportunity to explore Mars for signs of life is what inspired Dr. Jennifer Eigenbrode to join NASA. She wants to answer the question that has been asked for thousands of years — is “life” unique to Earth.
When Charlene Butler was growing up, she, along with many other young people, thought that it would be cool to work for NASA one day. Little would she have guessed that her dream would begin to unfold during ninth grade for it was in Ms. Butler’s freshman year that she decided on a career in the Computer/Information Technology (IT) field.
When Sabrina Thompson was trying to decide on a college major, one of her high school teachers informed her that the science and math courses required for a mechanical engineering degree would be too hard for her. Instead of taking his advice, she accepted it as a challenge and set out to prove him wrong.
Wanda Peters remembers, as a child, having her cartoons interrupted by the Apollo 11 lunar landing. While it was an unwelcomed interruption at the time, those feelings only lasted a moment; however, the impression that the landing made on her young mind would last a lifetime.
Maria Nowak’s search for a broader meaning in life took her from the floor of a 1950s-themed restaurant where she worked as a dancing waitress, to the esteemed grounds of NASA where she has taken a leading role in the field of physics.