“I’ve always been interested in the other side to the story.”
Katherine Brown is a woman of many cultures, many career paths and many stories. But as the Public Affairs Officer for the Office of Communications, Brown is now most focused on telling the story of women, STEM and their roles at NASA.
“My dad grew up in the South, and my mom was the first in her family to leave Korea. They grew up on separate sides of the world, yet they had such similar, parallel lives,” says Brown. “It makes you realize that we are all a part of one connected community — cut from the same cloth.”
Brown attributes her appreciation and identification with multiple cultures to her parents and her wanderlustful upbringing.
“I grew up in lots of places because my dad worked for the Red Cross — Germany, Japan, all over the United States,” Brown says. “When I lived in Europe, it was so easy to venture off and explore. I had my first authentic Italian meal when I was 14 years old.”
As a child, Brown was most fascinated with science, art and finding new ways to merge the two. During a high school internship with an obstetrics and gynecology surgeon, Brown watched a baby being born — but instead of taking notes, she was drawing what she saw. Someone she worked with saw her drawings, and mentioned that medical illustration was a career path Brown could pursue.
As a medical illustrator, Brown took classes alongside medical students, dissected cadavers and studied pathologies — all so she would gain a deep understanding of the procedures and anatomies she would need to draw.
Now as a public affairs officer for NASA, Brown utilizes the same set of skills in order to transform complicated topics into something simple and relatable for the public.
“What I liked about my first occupation was explaining complex medical content to the public through illustration and art,” she says. “And now I get to talk about space and the universe to the public.”
Brown worked in communications for many different branches of the federal government — including the Department of Defense Inspector General and the Transportation Security Administration — before coming to NASA.
“I thought about working for NASA the whole time I worked for the federal government. I applied to work there many times. The fourth time, they finally accepted me,” she reflects. “If you really want something, you just have to keep trying.”
Because Brown has lived in many places and worked in many fields, she has an appreciation for the paths that are not always straight.
“As you can tell from my story, your path can branch off in lot of different directions. I don’t think success always means climbing the ladder. Sometimes, it can mean moving laterally.”
Speaking on heritage, Brown encourages her audiences to take pride in themselves, and not just where they are from: “It’s always great to be proud of your heritage. But in the end, you are uniquely you. You have a unique skillset, a unique future and a unique path ahead of you. It’s good to be proud of your roots, but it’s also good to be proud of where you going, and not just where you are from.”
Image Credit: NASA / Thalia Patrinos
Text Credit: Thalia Patrinos