Filipina Student Who Had Difficulty with Her Math Courses Now Works as a NASA Engineer

While most kids have big dreams of becoming a doctor or making it big someday, Filipina engineer Josephine Santiago-Bond reveals in an interview with

“As a child, I always knew I would go to college, get a job, try to earn enough to afford the things I need and want, but I had not envisioned a particular profession.”

Who would have thought that the Filipina would eventually become the head of the Advanced Engineering Development Branch at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida, one of the 10 National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sites?

Josephine was born in the United States, but her family moved back to the Philippines when she was only two months old. She was raised in Antipolo and grew up with a family of doctors and scientists, but never really saw herself going into the same field. Likewise, astronomy is an unlikely ambition given that the Philippines doesn’t even have their own space program.

Still, she completed her secondary education at Philippine Science High School where an upperclassman had her consider engineering for college. She then took up Electronics and Communications Engineering at the University of the Philippines. Afterward, she pursued a Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from South Dakota State University.

Throughout her education, she admits that even she had difficulty with her math courses. She admits that:

“I had to crawl my way through some of the courses, but I wasn’t going to give up because of a few bad grades.”

This perseverance paid off when her graduate adviser gave her the opportunity to work at the John F. Kennedy Space Center (K.S.C.). A summer job turned into a graduate cooperative internship, which she continued until her graduation. She was then offered a full-time position there.

Now as the chief of her department, Josephine is responsible for “[supplying] engineering support to research and technology development projects at Kennedy Space Center.” Sounds like a mouthful, but it basically means she chooses which people are brilliant enough to work for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

“I’m leading very diverse groups of people to bring their whole selves to work while executing NASA’s mission, which ultimately benefits humankind,” she explains.