My father joined Boeing to work the V-22 Osprey program, while we were living in Springfield, Va. I was young -- maybe 8 -- at the time, and didn't know that my father worked for a company called Boeing, much less what a really cool vehicle he was helping develop.
His job took us to Huntsville, Ala., for him to work on the budding International Space Station program, and I started to learn more about Boeing as a company and the varied projects they tackled. More importantly, I started to look up at night, find some far-off star twinkling in the distance and think: My dad is working to get us out there -- I'm gonna get out there one day, too.
So I spent my youth searching the night sky for a sighting of the International Space Station, long after he left the program. It was one of those bigger-than-yourself things, when you realize that you are such a small part of the big picture -- but you also realize what a pivotal part in the big picture one mark can play.
I am now chief of staff for the Space Launch System program with Boeing. Every day, I get to be part of the team that's making strides in history to take humans on their first journey to Mars. I constantly look around and am overwhelmed at what a charmed life I lead. I work with the most passionate, brilliant people, who are all aligned around one focus: excelling mankind through science.
Now I get to look up into the sky at the passing space station and think: My dad did that -- and my team is going to take us beyond.