My road to NASA was not an easy one. I was fortunate enough during my lifetime to have two very special women – my mother Gladis and my sister Veronica – who greatly influenced me and inspired me to strive to achieve great things. My mother, who raised me as a single parent, passed away due to complications from Lupus when I was just 14 years old. Our years together were cut short by her illness, so the years we had together were priceless.
My mother taught me how to be independent and mindful of other people’s feelings, and to love the word of God. She encouraged and challenged me to always do my best and to believe in my God-given abilities. My loving and supportive sister was only 18 years old when she assumed the role of mother to me after our mother’s passing. From my sister, I learned that sometimes it is necessary to put your own desires and needs on hold to be there for the ones you love and who need you.
My sister’s selfless actions inspired me to find a way to give back to others, show respect to those who have been there for me when I needed them, and be a role model to my own children; most importantly, she showed me what it means to be humble and modest. Without these two beautiful women in my life, I know I would not be the person I am today.
I began working at NASA in 1989 as a participant in the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Cooperative Education Program as an administrative assistant for the Science & Engineering Directorate. I was 19 years old at the time and was raising and supporting my daughter, Bridgette. I was hired as a permanent employee in June 1991 after graduating from Calhoun College with my associate’s degree in business administration. In 1995, I competed and was awarded a position within the Office of the Chief Financial Officer as a civilian pay technician. This would be my first step toward a new career with promotion potential. It also motivated me to continue my education and pursue my bachelor’s degree, to better support myself and my children.
In 2006, I was asked to participate in the transition of NASA’s payroll operations from the Consolidated Payroll Office to the NASA Shared Services Center at Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. This transition of services was one of the hardest tasks I have ever performed in my NASA career. I next applied for a position within the Marshall Center’s Office of the Chief Information Officer, where I was selected for my current post as an information technology specialist in NASA’s Enterprise Applications Competency Center, also known as NEACC. This opportunity came with a promotion effective the first day of my reassignment – God truly works in mysterious ways! At a time when I was facing one of the most challenging moments in my career, God stepped in and made it one of the happiest moments. Prayer truly changes things!
When I look back, I consider graduating from high school to be one of my greatest accomplishments because it was the first step toward furthering my education. Receiving my diploma was a great moment, owing to the many challenges I faced during my high school years. The loss of my mother at age 14 and the challenges of becoming a single parent at age 16 forced me to rely on my faith and personal strengths. I worked hard to keep my grades up while providing for and taking care of my daughter. In the end I graduated in the top 10th percentile of my senior class. My academic success in high school led to my receiving a full academic scholarship to attend college.
I am so proud, but humbled at the same time, to say that my perseverance to succeed academically and personally has rubbed off on my children: My daughter Bridgette recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and my son Jaron currently is pursuing his college degree in nursing as well. Over the years, I’ve encouraged my sister Veronica to go back to school and continue her education, too. I was so excited when, in 2009, she started taking nursing courses with my son.
Away from work I enjoy spending time with my family and being involved in youth and outreach activities at my church. I love the outdoors, planting flowers, and doing my own lawn work. One of my favorite things is watching high school, college, and professional football and basketball games.
If I could tell any young person one thing, it would be this: Never give up on yourself and your dreams! NASA is definitely more than astronauts, and anyone who works for NASA can reach for the stars.
Tarrie Hood’s road to NASA, in her own words, “was not an easy one”; the stars, when emblematic of success, never seemed so far away. Although Ms. Hood longed to be part of NASA, a “world-class organization in which cutting-edge technology was the standard and is created and used daily,” she faced several stumbling blocks: not the least of which was the loss of her mother when she was 14 years old and becoming a parent at the age of 16. A lesser woman than Ms. Hood was would not have striven to attain her goals; but, buttressed by her older sister Veronica, Ms. Hood “became a participant in the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Cooperative Education Program, [acting] as an administrative assistant for the Science & Engineering Directorate” at the age of 19. After graduating from Calhoun Community College, Georgia, with an associate’s degree in business administration, several years later Ms. Hood went on to pursue a bachelor’s degree in business. Yet for all her success at NASA and her earning of two college degrees, Ms. Hood regards “graduating from high school to be one of [her] greatest accomplishments because it was the first step toward furthering [her] education.” For Ms. Hood, “NASA is definitely more than astronauts,” and she uses her status at the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to encourage young people and say to them: “Never give up on yourself and your dreams” because “anyone who works for NASA can reach for the stars.”