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Protocol Officer Carolina Rudisel

Portrait of Protocol Officer Carolina Rudisel
"… I try to tell folks that it's not where you started. It's not the mistakes you've made. It's what you do with it, and you can make that change not only for yourself but [also] so others can see you making the change and [know] that anything is possible." — Carolina Rudisel, Protocol Officer, NASA’s Ames Research Center

“I never would have imagined myself here at NASA. I’m an immigrant. I was originally a Mexican citizen. I was actually born in Mexico, but my parents came over to the U.S. [and I got my green card] when I was two. … My parents originally came over on a worker visa, and so we were migrant workers [when I was] growing up.

“… It was a rough upbringing, and so I knew what my life held for me if I stayed in [my] small town. I knew that I would be stuck, as even now, looking back, some of the people I knew are still stuck. So, I decided that I would join the military because I knew that, for myself, I needed to make a radical change. And so I joined the military, and my life completely turned around. … That’s where I met my husband. We’ve been together 32 years; we’ve been married for 29 years.

“… [Before I joined] the military … I was on the wrong end of the law. I was literally standing in front of a judge who had my fate in their hands. … My recruiter happened to be at my hearing, and so we did a plea bargain and I was let off with a fine. But my life could have been completely different. So I knew the radical change was absolutely necessary for my life.

“… Fast forward: [I] joined the military, got out, and ended up spending most of the time overseas. I lived in Japan — as a matter of fact, both our kids together were born in Japan. [We] lived in Japan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Belgium, and our last post was London.

“… I worked for the Defense Attaché Office, and my co-worker was in the Navy and she was like, ‘There’s a job in NASA in Northern California! You’re from California, right? … You should apply.’ And I [thought], ‘There is no way.’ You know, I’m a businessperson, my background is in business. I was a finance budget analyst. And so, I was like, ‘There’s no way.’ She [said], ‘You should apply. Apply, apply, apply! The worst thing they could say is no.’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? You’re right.’ I applied, came to NASA, [and] actually started off here as the secretary for the center director.

“… I try to tell folks that it’s not where you started. It’s not the mistakes you’ve made. It’s what you do with it, and you can make that change not only for yourself but [also] so others can see you making the change and [know] that anything is possible.”

— Carolina Rudisel, Protocol Officer, Office of the Center Director, NASA’s Ames Research Center

Image Credit: NASA / Brandon Torres
Interviewer: NASA / Michelle Zajac

Lee esta historia en español aquí.

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