A NASA official said Florida A&M’s students are ideal for internships, fellowships and scholarships at the agency.
“We have some great students that come from here,” said Josephine Pereira, recruitment manager for Nassau County Space Center and Pathways Internship program.
Deonte and Gerard [former FAMU graduates working at NASA] are doing well. When that happens, managers say, “I need more students like that. When somebody is doing well, we keep coming back to that school.”
For more than two years, NASA has offered co-op programs such as its Pathways Internship Employment Program (IEP) for interested students and college graduates.
Every seat was filled and people were standing as students and faculty gathered in the President’s Dining Room Tuesday to meet with NASA employees for an informal question and answer reception. The meeting was one day out of a weeklong campus event to recruit FAMU students.
Once the reception began, a panel of guest speakers who were FAMU alumni discussed their journey from college graduates to a career working for NASA.
“I’m a supervisor and really enjoy my job,” said Gina Henderson, Ph.D., a branch chief in the systems engineering division at NASA and the first graduate with a master’s degree from FAMU’s engineering school. “You can get high on the branch chain and still get to interact with other engineers.”
After twenty years, Henderson is now at the peak of her career at NASA and plans to continue the momentum, although people usually retire at 30 years she said.
Amber Ervin, a third-year computer science student from Miami, interned at the Kennedy Space Center through the Solar Program and said actually working at the workforce was her best experience.
“At NASA you learn a lot,” Ervin said. “We were able to go into the astronaut quarters where we got to meet astronauts and go into the PAB, Physical Assembly Building, where they make the shuttles and the rockets.”
Deonte Carpenter, a marketing specialist at NASA and former marketing major at FAMU, encouraged students to expand on NASA’s Solar Program initiatives because he believes in building generational wealth among college students who struggled financially and mentally with goals of a successful career after graduating like he did.
”Ever since I stepped foot on this campus, I had to work hard with three jobs,” Carpenter said. “I was in the band, SBI and it was difficult to balance all of that. When I have children, I want it to better for them so they can launch themselves from my success. I don’t want to be rich, but I want to be wealthy, and NASA is helping me do that.”
The majority of students who attended the event were from business and engineering schools, but Carpenter said NASA affords unique opportunities to students in a wide range of majors.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a budget analyst, a photographer or a carpenter,” Carpenter said. “Everything you do at your job affects somebody else’s job, which affect the mission.”
The goal of NASA’s co-op programs is to initiate and produce the best students once they complete the program.
“We want your professors to say, ‘Wow, that NASA experience really did make her a better student,’” Pereira said.
For more information on NASA’s internships and graduate programs, email firstname.lastname@example.org.