New Generation Initiatives

New Gen Spotlight: Words of Wisdom

Written by: developer

Over the past few months we have interviewed New Gen members and mentors, and found one common theme, there is space for everyone in space. Many of our spotlights mentioned an interest in space and STEM fields from a young age, that with encouragement, commitment and hard work have led to extremely interesting professions found within the aerospace industry.

Here are our favorite bits of advice from your fellow New Gen members and mentors.

Chipsafer Founder and CEO, Victoria Alonsopérez: “Reach for the stars. With the huge advances in technology it is much easier to achieve the career of your dreams, so just go for it.”

Debra Factor Lepore, Ball Aerospace Vice President and General Manager of Strategic Operations: “First, be an expert where there is none — find the thing that you are good at and passionate about, create that expertise, and be the go-to person on that subject, and second pass it on — broadly share what you learn and experience with those around you.”

NASA Microbiologist Sarah Castro-Wallace: “It is important to establish a good foundation in science, technology, math or engineering. However, you don’t have to excel in all of these areas. Pushing the boundaries of space exploration is going to take considerable expertise in all of these fields, and by exceling in one of them, you will be able to substantially contribute to the next giant leap. Also, so much of our exploration is going to involve brand new challenges and unknowns, and future leaders will need immense dedication toward finding new solutions.”

Lt. Col. Terrill McCall, USAF: “Strive to be the best at everything you do! Innovate and do not be risk averse. Many of the achievements of the 50th Space Wing can be attributed to pushing the boundary and taking acceptable risk…realize that the mission, whether military or civilian, often cannot be accomplished without your contributions. In the military we fight multi-domain conflicts and while sitting at a computer thousands of miles from the conflict may not be as rewarding as kicking in doors or pulling triggers, it is absolutely essential to the successful defense of our nation and our allies!”

Professional pilot and media coordinator, Saul Reza Arcelus: “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.”

Strategy & Integration Manager for Communication & Public Engagement at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Suzy Cunningham: “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!”

Space Foundation volunteer and founder of, Ron Sparkman: “Just keep going. You’re going to change the world and make history. It’s never too late to learn something new and pursue a new passion in life. In my early 30’s, science and space showed me a very beautiful new path, so my advice is to always keep your eyes open for new possibilities. You never know when the universe is coming for you!”

Micah Walter-Range, Space Foundation Director — Research & Analysis: “Make connections outside the space industry. One of the great things about space is that it brings together a wide variety of disciplines to accomplish incredible feats, but you also reach a point where the fact that you’re working with “space people” means that the possible solutions you come up with are limited. Talking regularly with professionals beyond the industry broadens your perspective, and you never know…maybe you have a space-related solution to a challenge they’re facing.”

Austin Braun, ULA summer intern: “Space is hard. As someone who isn’t skilled at math or technically minded, I was discouraged by the lack of potential I had to be a part of such an amazing industry. Luckily though, any and every talent you have can be utilized in this industry, since it takes a well-rounded team to send rockets into space.”

ULA President and CEO, Salvatore T. “Tory” Bruno: “Volunteer to work on the hardest problems.” This is complimented well by his favorite quote, which comes from English novelist Jane Austin, “It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

Many of these dedicated space professionals will be at the 33rd Space Symposium, April 3-6, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Meet them, along with other New Gen members and mentors, at the international premier space gathering. See the New Gen programming here.

This article is part of Space Watch: March 2017 (Volume: 16, Issue: 3).