In high school, Genel Wellans is distinguished by her
classes, especially maths, and quickly climb to the top of your class. Pa
the spring of her senior year, she had a welcome letter in her hand from her dream
school, MIT. But while it should be
it was a joyous time, the incident with a high school classmate threw a long one
"A classmate of mine approached me
in front of a group of friends and said, “We all know the reason for being accepted
it's at MIT because you're black, ”Wellons recalled. – Nobody
standing there was saying something, and the fact that no one stood up for me spoke
Today, Wellons shows no hint of how close she is
came to refuse ̵
surface, but because of doubts and questions that worked invisibly during the
its formative years.
Blondes with a lush personality and
she laughs, she works as an engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California, where he operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Diviner a radiometer that
measures the surface temperature of the moon. Wellons is also developing
a system that will command the polygonal aerosol tool that
will launch around 2022 to investigate how Earth's pollutants affect human health
At only three years old, when she was in college, she was one of them
the youngest members of the Lunar Mission and Earth Mission. But while she does
progress was quick, not easy.
Wellson grew up in South Jersey, the oldest of
two siblings. Her mother was a secretary at an oil and gas corporation, and she was
father worked in warehouses. When she was about 6, she went with her
mother of a day to bring to work and spend the morning surrounded by
"Open my eyes to realize: an engineer
do things! "I understood that."
But as he got older, Wellons realized that
achieving her goals would sometimes be prejudiced. The letter of acceptance
the incident was not her only racism. Wellons felt racial tension
in her high school years, especially since she was often one of the few
black students in her accommodation improvement classes.
"That definitely defined me. It was like them
I couldn't see anything else, she says. "In high school, people joke
about bad things all the time and they always say they are joking about doing it
OK, but after a while, it gets to you, "she says.
With her senior year, she recalled," Something
he just wasn't right. "
She was not injured
The spring of her senior year, Wellons received
a call from the MIT engineering office for information with the news that
"It should have been a very happy moment, but
I felt nothing and just closed the phone and sat outside
lockers, ”she recalled. “When I realized I couldn't feel happy
this, I realized there was something really wrong with me.
"Then the suicidal thoughts began
to sneak in, "Why can I no longer have authentic reactions?"
was a serious problem. "
Wellons parents sought a therapist to help
it has improved dramatically since its entry into MIT. She joined Black
a student union that promised fear and interacted with a multicultural community
"I have definitely undergone a huge transformation
college, she says. "When you take away the 'smart black girl' label,
you become your own self and people can have a conversation beyond that. "
Still, her course load was demanding, and
Wellons quickly realized that he was "in another realm of smarts"
finding herself seated next to an International Math gold medalist
Olympics and doubts why she was admitted to MIT. "But it was good
Although he thought he could play a major role
mathematics, aerospace engineering class changed his mind. The professor
showed a photo of an astronaut repairing NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and
revealed that he was the man in the photo. Wellons was in awe.
"The ability to be taught by one
the astronaut was something I couldn't get away with, ”she said
that's what I wanted to do – I'll learn about space from experts! I was
blown away by it. "
Another professor introduced her to the value of
critical self-assessment during a major project involving Antarctica
penetration probe "He was a really difficult professor who would angrily say, 'This
they would never pass the industry review "and would strongly criticize us
presentations, ”she recalled. “But now my standards are much higher
because of him I am just as nitrous. "
Wellons applies this work ethic around the clock
in JPL. It's on call 24/7 for Diviner's Revinnaissance Orbiter,
sometimes she called at 2pm and on one rare occasion had to rush to her
laptop in the middle of the night with friends.
"The only scary thing is, you are
the engineer responsible for the success of the tool, ”she said
you are an operator and you cannot afford to wash yourself in this job. tools
does not sleep. "
Typical Wellons Day begins with a check on
the health and safety of your instrument or, as she puts it, "make sure it is
stay well. "Then she will work with the scientific team and depending on that
what they would like to consider, help find out if their requests can be met
without exposing the well-being of the tool.
"You have a duty to make sure
scientists are not pushing the line, she explained. – If you get one too
greedy, you can break the tool. "
Then it creates the commands that will be sent
to the tool.
At JPL Wellons balances gratitude for her
a career and the realization that being a black female engineer comes with challenges.
"I'm so grateful to be here because
growing up, rarely if I have ever seen someone who looks like me to work in a company
so amazingly incredible, making history every day, ”she said
at the same time, this does not mean [there aren’t] comments to me. JPL is compiled
to people with their own thoughts and experiences and perspectives on
life, so of course you will have cases. This definitely isn't
however, it slowed me down. "
To help spread the message of inclusion, Wellons
is on the board of the JPL African American Resource Team that she assists
"It's about building a cultural community
and encourages other young people to come to work here, "she says.
While Wellons often has work on the brain, she
Last summer, she spent two weeks in South Korea,
helping third to sixth graders in space camp learn about aliens
volcanic bodies, launching rocket launchers and simulating rover rides.
Looking back at what she went through, Wellons
stay focused on positivity and make the most of your time searching for JPL
mentors, accumulating a wide variety of experiences and directing their views
giving her voice and her vision to be heard.
"Being here for a short time does not mean that
you can't do great things fast, "she said.
But not easily, in her experience, and not without
the right people on your way along the way.
"I am eternally grateful for
opportunities and support that led me to JPL because it never was
– Remember those who supported themselves
you, who believed in you, prayed for you, taught you and raised you when you were
it feels especially down. "
Media Contact for News
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
Written by Celeste Hoang