Rosalind Cylar

Growing up in the inner city of the Bronx, New York, I had no idea I would work for NASA. My mother, sister and I lived in a small apartment with my aunt and uncle. My mother and most of her siblings had moved to New York from South Carolina. As a young girl, I always knew I wanted to be a lawyer. There were no lawyers in my family and I did not know any lawyers personally, but the court shows on TV fascinated me. That fascination stuck with me, and in high school I got my first job as an office clerk in a law firm in downtown New York. I was 16 years old at the time. I loved being in that environment. I would sit in on meetings and help with trial preparations. I knew someday I would be the one sitting behind the desk giving the legal advice.

When I was a junior in high school, my guidance counselor suggested that I apply to Duke University. I was skeptical about applying, given the expense of attending Duke and the distance from home, but I decided to apply anyway. I was accepted, and my mother took my sister and me to visit the university. I instantly fell in love with the campus and the school. I knew I had to figure out a way, financially, to attend. I applied for every scholarship I could find. When it came time for me to make a final decision, I had secured enough financial aid from the university and a number of outside scholarships to defray my tuition, room and board, and book fees. I was excited and scared. I would be the first out of all of my cousins to attend college away from home. Some family members tried to talk me into going to New York University and living at home, but I was determined to go to Duke. I matriculated that summer.

During the summer of my sophomore year, I decided to study in Italy for six weeks. I didn’t speak any Italian, but I didn’t let that minor detail stop me. My mother encouraged me to go, even though neither she nor any of my family had ever traveled outside of the United States. I had a wonderful time learning about Italian art and culture. I even learned a few Italian phrases. My four years at Duke provided me with some of the best opportunities and experiences of my life.

After I graduated college, I worked two years as a paralegal in New York City. Those two years affirmed my decision to attend law school and in 2000, I was accepted to Vanderbilt University Law School, in Nashville, Tennessee. I am the first person in my family to go to law school. In 2003, I proudly walked across that stage and accepted my Juris doctorate degree. That was one of the proudest moments in my life. I had accomplished something I’d dreamed about since I was a little girl. It was not only an accomplishment for me, but for my entire family. I had come so far from the inner cities of New York. I was the first to go away to college, travel outside the U.S. and attend and graduate law school. I was proud and so was my family.

After law school, I obtained a job as a corporate attorney in Huntsville, Alabama. I practiced for two years as a corporate attorney. In 2005, I applied and accepted an attorney advisor position at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, also in Huntsville. The next year I married my wonderful husband Rashad, a native of Atlanta, Georgia. Rashad works as an electrical engineer for the U.S. Army. Rashad and I now have two little boys, Isaiah (8 years old) and Isaac (6 years old). I spend most of my free time helping with homework, attending soccer games and practices, swimming lessons, elementary school events, all while maintaining a home and staying on top of my professional responsibilities.

I sometimes wonder how I will accomplish it all, but just as I have done in the past, I press forward. I remember what my mother always told me, “If you’re going to do something, then you need to do your best and give it all you got.” I think that has been the mantra for my life. It has propelled me to try new things and accomplish things that seemed almost impossible. I hope to instill that same determination and drive in my boys and to teach them that they have the ability to accomplish anything no matter how impossible the task may seem.

Photo of Rosalind Cylar


Rosalind Cylar serves as an attorney and advisor in the Office of Chief Counsel at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She participates in a variety of legal activities designed to assure adequacy and propriety in the Marshall Center’s activities and documentation. In providing this service, she is protecting legal and financial rights of the government and parties affected by NASA activities; preventing or minimizing litigation risks, claims or other controversy; and if controversy develops, she prepares cases for hearings and serves as the agency representative in any resulting hearings conducted before administrative bodies or courts. Cylar supports NASA by providing legal support to all of Marshall’s programs, projects and institutional support offices. She practices in the areas of procurement law, Space Act Agreements, environmental law and review of Freedom of Information Act requests. She also serves as legal advisor to Source Evaluation Boards, Source Evaluation Committees and Marshall’s Centennial Challenges Program. Cylar joined Marshall’s Office of Chief Counsel in September 2005. She was born and raised in the Bronx, New York, and received a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and her Juris Doctorate from the Vanderbilt University School of Law in Nashville, Tennessee. She is married to Rashad Cylar, an electrical engineer for the U.S. Army. She has two sons, Isaiah, 8, and Isaac, 6. Cylar enjoys spending time with her family, reading and mentoring. She and her family enjoy traveling and visiting with out-of-town family members; they also enjoy their weekly soccer games and bowling outings.