Josephine was born in the United States, and her parents were from the Philippines. When she was two months old, her parents moved the family back to the Philippines. Both of her parents were doctors. When someone would call the house looking for Dr. Santiago, Josephine would have to ask which of her parents they were looking for. Both of her sisters are doctors as well, but she never wanted to get into their profession. She didn’t know what she wanted to do.
No Profession In Mind
Growing up, Josephine didn’t know what she wanted to be when she grew up. She knew that she would go to college so that she could earn a living and buy the things that she needed. She just didn’t know what she was going to study.
Josephine went to college at the University of the Philippines. She didn’t know what she was going to major in at first and then classmate suggested that she take up an Electronics and Communications Engineering course. She decided to give it a try, but it wasn’t as easy as she thought it would be. She really struggled with the mathematics sections. She says that she had to crawl her way through some of the classes. She refused to give up on the program just because of a few bad grades. She socialized occasionally and spent most of her time working on math and engineering problems. She would study until she was confident enough to take the test. In many cases, she would study up until the last minutes. She had plenty of sleepless nights in college and made some good friends. In the end, her persistence paid off.
When Josephine graduated from the University of the Philippines, she moved to the United States. She wanted to get her Master’s Degree in Electrical Engineering. She applied to the South Dakota State University, and she excelled in her studies.
A Summer Job
Josephine did so well in her classes that she was offered a summer fob at the John F. Kennedy Space Center. At the time, she knew nothing about space shuttles. She didn’t know about the space program at all. She had no idea that there was an International Space Station orbiting right above us. She didn’t care that she didn’t know much about the space program because they didn’t care. She was just happy to be getting a break from South Dakota.
Josephine’s summer job paid off, and she was offered a full-time job as a NASA engineer. Engineering is a male-dominated field at NASA, and based on the statistics; she didn’t fit the gender or the racial statistics. She never felt any of the facial and gender segregation that was portrayed in the movie, Hidden Figures.
Hidden Figures is a true story based on a woman named, Dorothy Vaughan. When she heard that electronic computers were going to be installed at her workplace, she taught herself to program. After, she trained her coworkers to program.
Filling the Gaps
Josephine sees a bit of Dorothy in herself. She is always looking for gaps that she can fill. She is responsible for continuing her professional development, and she works hard. She tried each day to elevate others around her by mentoring them. The first time Josephine saw the movie, it made her think of herself and her life. She says that the movie spoke to her and she watched it over and over again.
Josephine believes in dreaming big. She also believes in exploring challenging opportunities along the way. If she would never have had the courage to get out of her comfort zone, she never would be where she is today. She started something that she knew that she wasn’t good at, but she challenged herself. Soon, she reaped the rewards, but the biggest reward was challenging herself and beating the challenge.
Assess Your Strengths
One piece of advice that Josephine would give people who are trying to be successful is to regularly assess your strengths. Sharpen the saw, and find positive ways to use your strengths to achieve the next step toward your dream. Josephine believes that if you don’t shoot for the stars, you won’t get too far in life. If she hadn’t, she never would have landed a job working for NASA. Had she let her struggles in math stop her from joining the Electronics and Communications Engineering program, NASA would have never been an option. She might have ended up studying medicine like her family did. Today, she is killing it in a male-dominated field. What more could she ask for? This student who struggled in math now works as NASA engineer.