NASA People

Center Snapshot: Kristina Ruhlman
02.23.09
Kristina Ruhlman. Image above: After two consecutive summers as an intern at NASA Langley, she was hired as a government relations assistant in the Strategic Relationships Office (SRO). Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

As a born and raised Nebraskan, Kristina Ruhlman was actively involved in high school, playing five sports; and college, playing two, plus serving as a leader in student government and various clubs. Her passion for being a team player landed her an internship with NASA Langley, which impressed her midwestern friends and family.

But her brother, Mike, who is eight years her elder, landed a job as stage manager with "ESPN Game Day," and Nebraska being football country ...

"When I go back home, even though I work for NASA, I still only have the second coolest job in the family," she said.

After her second summer as an intern, Ruhlman was hired by Tessada and Associates Inc. as a government relations assistant.

Ruhlman's "game day" recently came at Virginia Aerospace Day in Richmond, when aerospace advocates met with General Assembly members to discuss critical issues and the vital role aerospace plays in Virginia.

She set up 122 meetings, juggling the schedule to pack them all into just two days.

"We then paired the teams of aerospace industry and NASA employees in order to conduct meetings, conveying the importance of the aerospace workforce in Virginia," Ruhlman said. "Keeping all of the schedules straight and making sure each team knew when they needed to be where was chaotic. But I had a lot of help, and we made it through with style."

Away from the office, Ruhlman is learning to play golf. She also joined a NASA Langley volleyball team, Calipso. Most of Ruhlman's teammates work in the Science Directorate.

"They are always working on things that can really change the way we understand the Earth," Ruhlman said. "I love how everyone’s job plays a role in NASA’s success."

She never underestimates the power of meeting new people.

"It’s amazing how important relationships are. One interaction can be a catalyst for active advocacy on behalf of NASA, or Langley specifically. And one person’s advocacy for NASA Langley can influence a lot of people," Ruhlman said. "The more friends the center has, the better!"

Her involvement in team sports and events have lead her to appreciate relationships and taught her to "go with the flow."

But going with the flow -- at least the flow of traffic -- was something Ruhlman found difficult when she moved to Virginia from her hometown of North Platte, Neb. "For Christmas, my family got me a TomTom GPS so I would stop getting lost," she said. "Growing up, I think I took for granted that clear across town was only a five-minute drive."

She has extended family members in Yorktown that have made the transition easier for her. "I love being around them. They are fun and outgoing and there are always people coming and going," she said.

And the weather also helps. "I love that I can go golfing in February and that a beach trip can be spur of the moment. It’s awesome," she said.