Sandra Duncan

Having lived on the Mississippi Gulf Coast all of my life, I remember coming to Stennis Space Center on a field trip with my elementary school many years ago. At that time, I never thought I would one day be working for NASA at Stennis Space Center. I remember the first day as an employee at Stennis Space Center, driving through the South Gate and the moment I saw the National Aeronautics and Space Administration sign by the entrance gate. I couldn’t believe it, and to say I was excited was an understatement. Now, 31 years later I am still here and very proud to work for NASA.

In 1984, I was hired by Pam Am World Services to support the NASA Library at Stennis Space Center, Ms. I eventually obtained a position with the contractor support for NASA’s Financial Management Division at Stennis Space Center. It wasn’t until I after obtaining that position did I realize my career would become accounting, therefore with encouragement from my supervisor, I went back to college at night to further my education.

In 1994, I was selected for a civil servant position in the Financial Management Division at Stennis Space Center for the Reimbursable Department. In 2000, I was selected for a position as a Program Analysts for the Earth Science Directorate, and in 2006 I was selected for an Accountant position for NASA Shared Services Center. I have enjoyed every job I held at Stennis Space Center, but I absolutely love my current position. I realized years ago it is important to find a job you enjoy doing. I have always strived to perform well in all of my positions at NASA, because the work I perform is a reflection on me and on NASA. NSSC is customer service oriented, so I take being customer focused very seriously. I enjoy interacting with the Centers, fellow NASA employees, being on various teams, etc. I absolutely love my current position and love working for NASA. I am fortunate that I work with a team that is dedicated and conscientious, so that makes my job more enjoyable.

My advice to the younger generation is go to college, get a degree! Education is extremely important in today’s workforce. Another piece of advice, find a job/profession that you will enjoy doing, because you will spend many years in the workforce and you want to do something you enjoy doing. I would love to participate in career days at local high schools to be able to encourage the younger generation on how important a college education is and hopefully inspire them to become a future NASA employee.

When you start your NASA career, make the most of it, sign up for the various classes that are offered, apply for the leadership classes, the FIRST programs, get a mentor to help guide you through your career. Don’t ever think you can’t do something or are afraid you might not get selected, take the risk to achieve your goals. 31 years ago, I never thought I would become a Senior Accountant for NASA, but look at me, I did it. It wasn’t always easy, there were plenty of times I didn’t think it would ever happen, but it did and if I can do it anyone can do it. Just set your goals and work towards them. Work hard, always listen, observe and learn. Remember first impressions only happen once. One of my past Supervisors once told me you interview for your job every day, so make sure you do that job to your best ability every day.

Whenever I travel to other NASA Centers, I try to go on a tour of that Center. Sometimes you forget what NASA does because you sit behind a computer all day, but when you see what NASA has accomplished throughout the years, it is truly amazing and makes me very proud to be a NASA employee. I encourage everyone to travel to the different Center’s and take a tour. NASA is an amazing Agency and we do exciting things. I think it is hard for administrative personnel to fully understand what NASA does when you are in an office all day pushing paperwork, numbers, etc., so take the time to attend the “Ask me Anything” events, when you go on family vacations consider going to another NASA Center area and see what other Centers are doing, you won’t be disappointed.

NASA is family, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi Gulf Coast in 2005, I lost my house and everything in it and did not know what I was going to do or where my children and I was going to live, eventually we were placed in a FEMA trailer. I remember one day I was at my destroyed property in which I had to remove all of the fallen trees and debris so FEMA could bulldoze my property, I was standing there not knowing where to start, when a truck load of men and women from NASA Stennis Space Center pulled up and started cutting and clearing all of the trees and debris from my property. During those times I didn’t know what to do, but with the help of my family, volunteers and my NASA family I was able to get through it. That speaks volume to the kind of people NASA has working for them and one of the many reasons why I love working for NASA not to mention the exciting work NASA does.

I worked with a lot of great people, some of which have guided me to where I am today, even though some didn’t guide me personally, I watched their behavior and leadership style and learned from observation. I had leaders that supported me, provided me with opportunities and encouraged me throughout my NASA career. After learning, observing and working hard over the years here I am working for the best Agency and family there is….NASA.

Photo of Sandra Duncan

Biography

Ms. Sandra Duncan is an accountant in the Financial Management Division for the NASA Shared Services Center (NSSC). Sandra began her career as a contractor for NASA in 1984 at NASA’s Stennis Space Center (SSC). In 1994, she was selected for an Accounting Technician position working for NASA in the NASA Financial Management Division at SSC. During her career, Sandra has earned numerous awards including the Silver Snoopy Award in 2015. In 2006, Ms. Duncan actively participated in the successful transitioning of the Domestic, Foreign, and Extended Travel payment processing program from NASA Centers to the NSSC. In addition, she successfully implementing the Electronic Travel System 2 for the Agency in 2009 and 2014. Ms. Duncan loves to travel, shop, and spend time with her grandson. Ms. Duncan’s husband is a musician, and she enjoys watching him perform in various bands in the local area. She has two children, a daughter-in-law, a grandson and another grandson on the way. Sandra also has several step children and step grandchildren.