Monica Bowie

My mother’s example taught me that hard work pays off. She was a single parent raising five children and she remains my inspiration. From her, I learned three fundamental life lessons: to be true to myself; to be honest, regardless of the situation; and for every blessing I receive, to help someone else.

As a high school graduate, supporting a young child, I needed a job quickly. With my sister’s help, who was already a NASA employee, I began at NASA in the Summer Aid Program. I quickly moved to the Student Aid Program, supporting the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, while attending school part-time and working part-time. My supervisor became my first mentor, for which I’m very thankful. I enjoyed my work and my coworkers but something was missing. After careful consideration, I decided to leave NASA and enroll in school full time.

Over the next two years, I gave birth to my daughter and finished paralegal school. After graduating, I contacted my former NASA supervisor. The next day, I had an interview and was hired for the NASA Temporary Assignment Group program. My blessings were flowing and coming back to NASA was the turning point in my life.

During the next 13 years, I provided secretarial support for three different organizations: the Office of Legislative Affairs, the Earth Science Mission Directorate and the Office of External Relations. I took every opportunity to receive training in administration, protocol and career advancement. I continued to earn promotions, as well as special recognitions, such as Agency awards. I believe these recognitions were because I was taught to always do my best in my current position but work at the next level. These are values I have shared with others and instilled in my children.

There is an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction when you are rewarded for your efforts. The NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR) recognizes employees for hard work and dedication by supporting cross-training and employee development opportunities. I took advantage of these opportunities whenever possible, gaining additional experience while working in other areas. Secretaries may become Program Support Specialists; Program Support Specialists may become Desk Officers and Desk Officers are given the opportunity to become Directors. While working in OIIR, I was promoted to Program Support Specialist and became the main point of contact for the Agency’s Russian travel program. I established policies and procedures that are used today. In this role, I was able to give back by becoming a mentor and teacher on how to conduct official Russian travel. As my duties expanded, I added the responsibility to coordinate all foreign travel NASA aircraft flight manifests for the Office of the NASA Administrator. This included all the large and small logistical support issues. Examples of the diversified responsibilities included ensuring the aircraft cleared customs, aircraft refueling abroad and planning the in-flight menu. My support to senior staff on trips included International Space Station (ISS) Heads of Agency meetings and the ISS Multilateral Coordination Board meetings.

Once again, my efforts were acknowledged and rewarded. As a result of my work, I received commendations from senior NASA management and international partners. This assignment also opened up a whole new world for me, taking me places that I would have never had the opportunity to visit. I traveled to Paris, The Netherlands, Japan, Canada, and Russia, as the primary NASA coordinator for meetings, working side-by-side with my international counterparts. It was during this time that I realized that I no longer just had a job, but I had a career that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Throughout my career, I sought and received mentoring from multiple supervisors and colleagues. This support has been invaluable to me. One example was the outcome of my applying for and not being selected for a new position. When I asked my supervisor for a recommendation and advice, his response was not about the new position at all. Instead, he encouraged me to enroll in NASA’s Continuing Education Program and further my education. Thanks to his mentorship, my application was accepted. The NASA scholarship program allowed me to return to college and I achieved my one of my greatest goals by earning my Associates Degree in Sociology. One of my next goals is to earn my Bachelor’s Degree.

I feel very blessed for the opportunities I have been afforded. Just as others have encouraged me, I seek opportunities to encourage and mentor my co-workers. I suggest they consider requesting additional assignments, work at the next level without financial compensation, and inform management about their future goals. One of my favorite quotes for my life is from William A. Ward, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.” I believe my life exemplifies these words.

photo of Monica Bowie

Biography

Growing up, Monica Bowie dreamed of becoming a lawyer for the Department of Justice. After 23 years of working for NASA, she is delighted that the life she planned for herself was not what actually happened. Ms. Bowie started at NASA as a Clerk Typist and has worked her way up to serving as NASA’s Lead for International Guest Operations. She supports international guests attending Shuttle and Expendable Launch Vehicle events at NASA Centers, serving as the international lead coordinator for 22 Shuttle launches and landings. She established a unique process for supporting NASA’s international guests and became the recognized expert Agency-wide and around the world. Recently, she supported Office of International and Interagency Relations International Program Specialists in developing international agreements. Ms. Bowie assisted in the negotiation and renewal of the NASA-ESA Spacelab Loan Agreement. She renewed the University of British Columbia Loan Agreement. She assisted with the coordination of the Exchange of Notes between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Australia. She also coordinates Astronauts post-flight international visits. Ms. Bowie realizes that not everyone at NASA has the opportunity to associate with astronauts. Her work with this special group is priceless and creates memories that she will forever cherish.