Although senior Sarah Mace-Rodon initially followed in her parents’ footsteps, she is well on her way to charting her own course for professional success.
Mace-Rodon remembers asking her parents, who worked for NASA and the Environmental Protection Agency, “Is it okay if I don’t do science?” Motivated by a lifelong love of people and a passion for mental wellness, she decided to study psychology.
It was only when her mother introduced her to a psychologist at NASA that Mace-Rodon began to realize how her studies could be put to use in a different context. After shadowing her mother’s colleague, Mace-Rodon put together a proposal for an internship program within NASA’s psychology department—the first of its kind. “Creating that opportunity for myself was a big first step,” she said. When the proposal was approved, Mace-Rodon applied to the program and was accepted as a summer intern.
At the Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, Mace-Rodon explored how different therapies can be used to promote the wellbeing of NASA’s top scientists and engineers. She developed a six-week mindfulness meditation program that helped employees find ways to de-stress at work and at home. As a dedicated practitioner of mindfulness herself, Mace-Rodon relished the opportunity to bring peace and relaxation to a highly pressurized environment.
Without her many pursuits at Adelphi, Mace-Rodon would never have built up her confidence to apply to NASA. She enrolled in the Internship Preparation Seminar under the P.R.E.P. Program, where she refined her approach to practicing for interviews and worked with the Center for Career and Professional Development to fine-tune her résumé and cover letter. “It was those little extra things that made the difference for a successful internship application,” she said.
Looking to strengthen her leadership skills and gain even more professional experience, Mace-Rodon pushed herself to be active on campus as an admissions ambassador and a tour guide. Now in her senior year, she also conducts original research through the Emerging Scholars Program under the supervision of Professor Joel Weinberger, Ph.D., which was one experience that inspired her to pursue graduate work in clinical psychology.
Though Mace-Rodon sees herself becoming a clinical therapist at some point down the road, she has not ruled out returning to NASA. What’s the secret to landing a job that most people only dream about? “Reach as high and as far as you can,” Mace-Rodon said. “Not a lot of people would dare to think, ‘Yeah, I want to work at NASA,’ especially if they’re not a science major or a cookie-cutter applicant. But anything is possible.”This article appeared in the Career Compass Spring 2017 Newsletter.
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