Jennifer’s parents tell her that there were signs she was going to be an engineer from when she was little. She was the one that would sit at the family desk and take apart all the pens and mechanical pencils in the drawers. Her family went camping every summer and using a construction toy set, with pieces sort of like PVC pipes, elbows, and connectors, Jennifer would make things like a clothes closet or an enclosure for the outdoor shower they used after going swimming.
Growing up in a small town in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, the daughter of an educator and a social worker, Mary Beth never imagined her path would lead her to where she is today. Her parents provided a wide range of opportunities to help her find her passion. But most importantly, they drove home the idea that one has to enjoy what she is doing to do it well.
Despite growing up in Newport News, Virginia, the neighboring city of NASA Langley Research Center, and developing a love for space and academics, Donna never dreamt that she would one day work at NASA.
New employees at NASA’s Langley Research Center often ask Kathy whether she had a plan for her career. Her answer is a confident ‘no’. But the career Kathy ended up with is one she is privileged to have.
Aerodynamics has always fascinated Karen, although she didn’t know the term for it when she was younger. Throughout her life, Karen pursued this passion for aerodynamics. Her passion and the support she has received from teachers and mentors brought her to where she is today.
Service has always been Janet’s goal and motivation. It is a sense of purpose passed down to her from her mother. She instilled in Janet a strong work ethic. She didn’t have a lot. They weren’t rich. But she taught her how to give and not expect things in return. That has stayed with Janet.
One of Nancy’s earliest memories of NASA was in 1969 when her mom anxiously called her inside the house to look at the television. At the time, Nancy assumed adults could do almost anything, and she wondered why her mother made such a big deal about it. It was not until Nancy became an adult that she finally realized what a monumental achievement sending a man to moon really was.
In elementary school, Jill was that girl who loved Barbies, but mostly because she was all about modifying and constructing new and improved versions of her ‘Dream House’ from whatever she could find. Her family spent most of their weekends sailing together on the Chesapeake Bay. Looking back now, she realizes that it was her desire to design and build improved structures and her respect for teamwork that led her to find her dream career in aerospace engineering.
Rosemary Baize began her career in 1988, working as an aerospace technologist in wind tunnels at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. She supported tests on Pegasus boosters, was a project engineer and served as a facility safety head. But she didn’t stop there.
Seeming coincidences may not be accidental. Giving a lab tour to a seminar speaker led to Mia Siochi coming to NASA Langley Research Center when that speaker happened to be the head of the Composites and Polymers Branch who was looking for someone to support its polymers characterization need of the branch.
Taking advantage of opportunities and challenges has been the mantra for Julie Williams-Byrd’s career at NASA. These opportunities have allowed Ms. Williams-Byrd the ability to excel and to experience the career of a lifetime by working on exciting projects and working with exceptionally talented people from a variety of disciplines.
Connie Snapp aspired to be an artist and a writer with the long-ago dream of writing and illustrating her own books. She would never have predicted that she would one day work for NASA.
For Lelia Vann, moving forward in her life meant stepping back from everything she had worked so hard to accomplish, and asking the big question: Why?
Christine Belcastro long aspired to become an engineer but, as a female, thought the door was closed to her. Imagine her thrill when a college counselor enabled her to cross the threshold into NASA as an electrical engineer.
Wendy Pennington discovered her natural passion and inclination for engineering while enrolled in a mechanical drafting class in high school. While her love of drawing and design provided an architectural roadmap for her future, it was the encouragement and guidance of the teachers who recognized this young woman’s special talents that put her life on a trajectory that would land her at NASA, where she continues to be inspired and challenged to reach even greater heights.