In 1963 I went to work for Boeing Aerospace Division on the Apollo Saturn V program. I was a clerk in the Health and Safety office at Michoud Assembly Plant in New Orleans, straight out of college.
I was excited by the work done in that office, so I began reading the office reference books and decided I wanted to do that kind of work: safety engineering, industrial hygiene, fire protection and health physics. I was absolutely fascinated by the books I read and the conversations I had with these professionals, who encouraged me to go back to school to get a degree in safety engineering at Delgado College. I went to classes at night and on Saturdays.
One day a job opened up for Safety Inspector, and I boldly went in to our department manager and our supervisor and told them I could do that job because I had been reading, studying and typing the reports the inspectors made. I knew the "rules and regulations." To my surprise, they said they had been discussing that. I got the job!
I think that year was probably 1965 or 1966. I have never been prouder to be part of the team I belonged to. We were so close, and some of us still are in touch. To be a part of Boeing was so important to me. That was the finest assembly of people who believed so fiercely in what we did and how important it was to the national interest. We felt as much a part of the Apollo program as any astronaut. I am still prouder of that work than any I have done.
I left Boeing in 1972 as the space race was winding down and went on to earn two master's degrees. Among other accomplishments, I served on the board of directors of the American Society of Safety Engineers, was elected president in 1994-95 and became an ASSE Fellow in 1999. I also served on the board of directors of the Board of Certified Safety Professionals for seven years, and was president of BCSP. In 2015, I was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award.
I will never forget the encouragement I was given by Boeing. I owe so much to my manager and supervisor for giving me that all-important chance to be a professional and for opening those doors for my success.
Boeing has always been an employer I reference for its technical superiority and its reliability of product (I almost always fly a Boeing aircraft when I have a choice) and the way the company treats its employees. Oh, yeah, did I mention I am a woman? I was sometimes referred to at Michoud as "that mere slip of a girl"! Thank you for so much.