NASA People

Center Snapshot: Sebrenna Young
Sebrenna Young. Image above: In the past year, Sebrenna Young has a new job, moved into a new home and is working to change her life. NASA/Sean Smith

Jim Hodges

Sebrenna Young is going through a personal renaissance, a stage in her life that was triggered a year ago when she accepted a job at NASA Langley.

That job involves "processing awards for inventors," said Young, a contractor who works for the Inventions and Contributions Board at NASA headquarters. She is attached to the Strategic Relationships Office at Langley.

Since taking on the job, she and her three children, ages 9, 7 and 4, have moved into a new home. Young has joined a women's group that gets out several months a year to celebrate birthdays. She also sings with a gospel group in Hampton.

"A lot of this happened in the last year," she said. "It's like my life is turning in a totally different direction. I needed a change; I wanted more out of life than what I was getting. I guess I needed to put more into life. I'm really happy now."

Much of that comes from the job. She left Hampton University's Development Office for Langley. Before working at Hampton, she worked for a bank.

The Langley job requires processing awards for 75-85 inventions, submitting inventions to NASA’s annual Software of the Year and Invention of the Year competition as well as entering inventions in competitions sponsor by other organizations. Some of those inventions are pretty complicated, requiring Young to do her own research. It's a challenge she relishes.

"If there is something I don't understand, I go on the Internet and try to find more articles about it," she said. "And then, as I read, I begin to understand the technology better.

"And sometimes I will talk to the inventors and they will break it down for me."

That challenge also has taught her something about the place where she works.

"When I need something, I know I can go to anyone in SRO. If they cannot assist me, they can direct me to someone who can," Young said. "That's better than some past jobs. People are willing to help whereever needed. It’s very good here."

Though she is a native of Hampton, she knew little about what went on at Langley. "It's amazing the things they have given back to the community that I didn't know about," Young said. "There have been so many inventions that have helped so many people."

It's been a fulfilling first year, and the second appears to be just as rewarding. "I will be going back to school, to Regent University, in January to study psychology," she said.

"My long-term goal is to become a psychologist. I would like to help people."

Her reasons are personal and are the product of her experience. "I've found that a lot of people get stuck in a mode and can't see their way out," she said. "But if they can see beyond where they are, then they can move forward.

"I've found that to be the case in any area. If you think you're stuck in a situation and think that's all you have, then you can't see yourself moving up and trying something new. It's similar to being a single parent, which I am. If you can see past where you are, you can achieve much more."

Like a new job at NASA Langley. And a new life.