Once Struggled In Math, Filipino Student Now Works For NASA As Engineer

Josephine Santiago-Bond had a difficult time in college because she had difficulty with mathematics. She had no idea that her hard work would pay off with a job at NASA years later!

Josephine revealed in an interview with SPOT that working as an engineer at NASA was never on her radar when she was younger. In fact, when she was younger, she didn’t have any precise ambitions.

“As a child, I always knew I’d go to college, find a job, and attempt to make enough money to purchase the things I need and want,” she said, “but I never imagined a specific vocation.”

Josephine, who was born in the United States but whose parents are from the Philippines, revealed that both her parents and sisters are doctors. Their careers, on the other hand, never motivated her to follow in their footsteps.

“When I answered the phone, I’d have to ask the caller, ‘Which Dr. Santiago?’ because both my parents and sisters were doctors in some capacity.”

“I’m sure their interest and work ethic rubbed off on me,” she continued, “but their vocations didn’t speak to me.”

She went on to the University of the Philippines to study Electronics and Communications Engineering later in college. It was a difficult time for her because she was having difficulty with mathematics.

“I had to slog through some of the classes, but I wasn’t going to abandon [Electronics and Communications Engineering] because of a few poor grades.”

“I studied solving math and engineering questions in between my fair share of socializing until I was either confident enough to take the test or ran out of review time.” “There were many sleepless nights, but strong connections were created, and my perseverance paid off in the end,” she concluded.

Josephine came to the United States after graduating to pursue her Master’s degree in Electrical Engineering at South Dakota State University.

She earned a pot for a summer work at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in 2003, a few years later.

“I knew nothing about space shuttles, and I had no idea that the International Space Station was orbiting above us.” “I was so glad to get away from South Dakota,” she explained.

Fortunately for Josephine, the summer employment morphed into a graduate cooperative internship, which eventually led to a full-time position at the space center. She is now employed by NASA as an engineer!

Despite her struggles in college, Josephine believes she now understands the importance of taking full responsibility for her own learning and development.

“I imagine myself like Dorothy Vaughan, who taught herself programming and instructed her coworkers after learning about the installation of electronic computers.”

“I search for gaps that I can fill proactively, I am responsible for continuing my professional development, and I attempt to elevate individuals around me through mentorship,” she stated.

She concluded the interview by emphasizing the need of continuing to dream big while also being willing to step outside of one’s comfort zone.

“Dream a lot of big ideas and take risks along the way.” Push yourself to new heights, step outside of your comfort zone, and take on things that are more difficult than you’re used to. “Aim for expansion.”

“Try things you’re not naturally excellent at. Expect that not all of your aspirations will come true the first time you try, but give each attempt your best effort nevertheless.”

“Assess your strengths on a regular basis, sharpen the saw, and identify constructive ways to leverage your strengths to take the next step toward your goal.”


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