New Generation Initiatives

New Gen Spotlight: Aerospace Songbirds

Written by: developer

This series in Space Watch spotlights one New Generation participant and one New Gen mentor, providing insight into the success of these space professionals. The Space Foundation’s New Generation program was founded in 2008 as a forum to foster long-term peer relationships between young space professionals, aged 35 and younger, and top space leaders and mentors. To find out how to get involved in the Space Foundation’s New Generation program as a participant or mentor, please email [email protected].

This month, we meet an airline pilot and a NASA strategy and integration manager who both enjoy singing and musical hobbies during their free time.

New Generation Participant: Saul Reza Arcelus 

Saul Reza Arcelus is a professional airline pilot for AeroMexico and media coordinator for EnElAire – Airways Magazine. Residing in Mexico City, Saul attended the Delta Connection Academy, where he studied in the Professional Pilot Program, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Aeronautics.

As a child, Saul wanted to be an astronaut and a pilot. All he ever wanted was “to fly and explore.” He finds role models within individuals who are able to lead by example, care about others and bring out the best in people in critical times. His greatest role model was NASA’s legendary flight director Gene Kranz. His favorite quote also comes from Kranz. “We were the ones in the trenches of space, and with only the tools of leadership, trust and teamwork, we contained the risks and made the conquest of space possible.”

When not flying the skies or promoting the STEM fields in Latin America, Saul notes he is “a passionate traveler,” and enjoys playing musical instruments, including the guitar, bass and piano, and also loves to sing. He is an avid runner and enjoys reading and studying history and leadership skills. He shares this with prospective space leaders — “In a world of infinite possibilities and opportunities, allow your passion to be the engine of your efforts. Gather with those who encourage you, who see something in you, find mentors along the way, and sustain each one of your steps on principles of ethical behavior. Allow yourself to perceive the world under a realistically-optimistic lens, and understand that all of the greatest achievements in human history are the result of team efforts. Forever persevere, for space requires the best of us.”

“I’ve found in the space community something that I would dare to define as ‘Humankind Version 2.0.’ The capability of this industry to unite and improve ourselves is enormous. We all get to be pioneers in all the fields that endeavor into space, and every person’s effort counts, every single step makes us better than who we were before. Space brings purpose and a sense of selfless direction, and if we can promote that message among the new generations, it is my belief that by going beyond Earth’s atmosphere we will be able to meet our most noble destiny.”

New Generation Mentor: Suzy Cunningham 

Also a music lover, Suzy Cunningham of Merritt Island, Florida, is the Strategy & Integration Manager for Communication & Public Engagement at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. In this role, Suzy works with NASA, industry, academia, the Department of Defense and other state and federal leaders to research community, Center and organizational issues and initiatives related to communication and public engagement, and determine the impact of those functions on Kennedy Space Center and the Agency. With a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, and a Master of Science in space systems operations from Florida Institute of Technology, Suzy had interests in airplanes, rockets and mathematics. In high school, she realized she enjoyed abstract math and that she’d prefer to be an engineer rather than an accountant.

Her mother was her role model, and would tell Suzy she could be anything she wanted to be and “always encouraged my love of math and science, and singing.” She began singing at the young age of three, and knowing she didn’t want to be a starving artist, decided to sing on the side and she pursued a career in aerospace. In her spare time, she still finds time to sing and has sung on various worship teams at church and other musical endeavors, and was honored to sing the National Anthem for past Space Shuttle launches, as well as current space-related launches, ceremonies and events.

Her favorite quote comes from Nichelle Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura in Star Trek. “Science Is not a boy’s game, it’s not a girl’s game, it’s everyone’s game. It’s about where we are and where we’re going. Space travel benefits us here on Earth. And we ain’t stopped yet. There’s more exploration to come.”

Her advice for up and coming space professionals: “That the (aerospace) business world perceives women differently from men, and you may have to adapt to be successful. I’m thankful for my many workplace mentors that have, and continue to, guide me, and I now share what I’ve learned as I mentor others. I encourage everyone I know to do something you love. If it’s your passion, you’ll give it your all and will enjoy it!”

This article is part of Space Watch: December 2016 (Volume: 15, Issue: 12).