Rachel Stewart – Athens State University

I was an almost straight-A student throughout my school years so I knew I wanted to go to college. I was the first person in my family to go to college and back in mid 80s, we didn’t have the Internet to do the research on colleges and majors you can do today. When my father died my junior year in high school, however, I didn’t know how I would be able to afford to go to college, much less go off to college, so my options were limited.

By a small miracle of being in the right place at the right time, I managed to get hired at NASA before I graduated high school as a student aid. I enrolled at Calhoun to get my first freshman and sophomore classes out of the way while I tried to decide what I wanted to do and I had to be enrolled in college to keep the student aid position. One of my tasks was to create new hire folders. I really enjoyed setting up the ones for co-ops. It was by doing this task I learned about Athens College, as it was called back then. I asked people I worked with and found out what I needed to do to enroll. It was affordable, and even better, NASA hired co-ops from there.

When I transferred to Athens, I was able to move into a co-op position and began the introduction into workforce analysis position I converted into full-time after I graduated. Graduating from Athens allowed me to start my career at NASA I’ve loved for almost 29 years. I was in the same office I co-oped in for 25 of those years but I was always given new and interesting things to do, including managing HR IT systems.

It was my love of HR systems that helped me be selected for my current position of Systems Administrator for the NASA Staffing and Recruiting System (StaRS). I love my job. It has its challenges but I have wonderful people I work with across the agency to make every little bump worthwhile. NASA truly is the best place to work! I often think back to how Athens State University helped me get to a position I love in a wonderful agency and am thankful to call myself an alumni of Athens State!!!