Vanessa Ellerbe Wyche ’85, M ’87 remembers studying hard at Clemson and the way campus leaders mentored her, especially when one chemistry professor encouraged her to trust herself when she was struggling: “I remember telling him that I wasn’t quite understanding something. He told me that I just needed to step back, take a break, and it was going to come to me. And it did.”
Now, after a career with NASA spanning nearly three decades, she’s leading the way as the deputy director of Johnson Space Center in Houston, becoming the first African-American to serve in the position when she started in August 2018. Working alongside director Mark Geyer, Wyche is responsible for 10,000 civil service and contract employees at Johnson Space Center and White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico.