Meet – Dr. Wendy Okolo, at age 26 she obtained a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, becoming the first black woman to obtain this qualification at the university.
She was born and raised in Nigeria where she attended St Mary’s Primary School and Queen’s College in Lagos.
She is an award-winning Aerospace Researcher Engineer focused on flight dynamics, vehicle controls, and systems health monitoring in the Intelligent Systems Division at NASA Ames Research Center.
Dr. Wendy Okolo is also an avid supporter of changing the narrative of underrepresentation in STEM, particularly for young girls, career woman, and people of color.
In addition to her role as an Aerospace Researcher, Dr. Okolo has served as a Special Emphasis Programs Manager for Women, working to demonstrate and ensure NASA’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women.
Her initiatives include creating nursing rooms for mothers to ease their transition back to work and analyzing job language usage in position descriptions to remove gendered language biases that reduce female applicants.
Dr. Wendy Okolo is always a call away to giving a keynote speech, serving on a panel, inspiring the next generation of minority STEM leaders, and providing tools for individuals and organizations to foster diversity and inclusion in STEM.
At NASA, she was honored with the 2021 NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal, the 2020 NASA Ames Award for Researcher/Scientist, and the 2019 NASA Ames Early Career Researcher Award, becoming the first woman to receive the Ames Early Career Researcher Award.
In 2021, she was named among the Most Influential People of African Descent, in support of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent.
In June 2023, Dr. Wendy Okolo published her book titled – “LEARN TO FLY: ON BECAMING A ROCKET SCIENTIST” the book is available on Amazon.
“School was easy for me, I got A’s all through, but my mom said I was going to become an Engineer even before I knew what it was. I was telling everyone that I wanted to become an Engineer, but I didn’t know what Engineer I was going to be. I didn’t decide what engineering to specialise in right before I started my first semester but later on, Aerospace was what I fell in love with because it was fascinating,” said Dr. Wendy Okolo.
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