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Diane Cockrell – Launchpad for Success
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Highly passionate about the internship programs at Goddard, Diane has been making a difference in students’ lives for over thirty years.

Name: Diane Cockrell
Title: Intern Coordinator for the National Space Club Scholars Program
Formal Job Classification: Same as above
Organization: Code 160, Office of Education

What do you do at Goddard?

For the past seven years I have had the privilege of being the Intern Coordinator for the National Space Club Scholars Program. Even though the internships that I organize only last for six weeks during the summer, there are many aspects of my job that continue year-round. In the fall, I begin encouraging Goddard employees to post open intern positions. It is critical that people post these positions so that there are a wide variety of internships available to high school students. In the early spring, my job transitions to working with the mentors to select the most qualified interns for each position. In the summer, I arrange a calendar of activities in order to give the interns a more comprehensive experience here at Goddard. Then I get to actually meet those chosen students who I will be working with for the next six weeks!

Photo of Diane Cockrell
Photo of Diane Cockrell. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Becky Strauss

Why did you choose your profession?

For thirty-two-and-a-half years, I worked in the Howard County Public Schools teaching Earth and Space Science and Astronomy classes. Teaching these classes made me realize how internships are even more crucial to student development than academic coursework. I noticed how students would spend hours memorizing facts for their Advanced Placement tests only to forget those details as soon as the test was over. Internships, in contrast, allow students the chance to experience work in their projected career field before they are tied into it by a college degree or a job contract. If they love their internship, great! They now have confirmation of what they should pursue. If they end up disliking it, then I just saved them a lot of money in college expenses. For these reasons, I find my job as an Intern Coordinator extremely fulfilling.

What do you enjoy most about working at Goddard?

When I was first beginning my career as a teacher, I spent a summer at Goddard as a teaching intern. Two other interns and myself made good use of our time when we were not in scheduled science training classes – we attended every seminar, workshop, or lecture we could find, we explored old archives, and we took self-guided tours like the one in Building 7/10/29. I believe that the opportunity for continuous learning is the crux of what makes Goddard unique.

The people of Goddard are another favorite part of working here. They are dedicated to their own work, yet they cooperate with each other to share what they learn. I also appreciate how so many people have made an effort to support the intern programs.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their career at Goddard?

Diane Cockrell and her husband at the 2011 Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon FestivalDiane Cockrell and her husband at the 2011 Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Festival. Credit: Carol Mengerink I would give them the same advice that I give to my interns: make sure that you take advantage of the many enrichment activities such as speakers, tours, seminars, and training. Do not get so caught up in your work as to miss out on all the exciting opportunities right outside your office.

If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

My dream is to travel to Iceland. As a science enthusiast, I am fascinated by the distinctive geology of the country that is basically formed on top of volcanoes. Geysers, volcanic rock, and pools heated by underground magma are just some of the phenomena I hope to see.

What do you do to relax or have fun?

Travelling with my husband of thirty-three years is absolutely my favorite hobby. Our first trip was our honeymoon to St. Croix, an Island in the Virgin Islands, which remains my favorite place because of the beautiful beaches and friendly people. Some of our upcoming trips include Arizona, Chincoteague, and Philadelphia. I also enjoy working in my garden where I grow corn, beets, tomatoes, beans, and potatoes, just to name a few!

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