When I received my master’s degree, I did that for myself because I knew I still had the fire inside me to take it a little bit further.
Olumide Onanuga used his Ashford University BA in Psychology to launch his career with the U.S. federal government and now he's helping onboard astronauts at NASA.
“The cool thing about astronauts is they are truly team players and that takes me back to my time in the military,” he says. “It’s all about the group and not spending more than 10% on the problem, but spending more than 90% on the solution.”
When his time in the Marine Corps was coming to an end, Olumide knew he needed to prepare for a civilian career.
“The fact of the matter is I’m a wounded warrior and the only education I had was a high school diploma,” he says. “Education is the currency of the 21st century, and your education has to be current with your skill level.”
Stationed in Okinawa, he says he tried a traditional program through the University of Maryland, but it didn’t work with his frequent deployments. He chose Ashford because the online platform provided a classroom experience with more flexibility.
After he retired and finished his bachelor’s degree, his wife, Djaataa, was appointed to a position at NASA, which took their family from Texas to Washington, D.C., and left Olumide scrambling to find a job in their new city. He was quickly hired as a Compliance Officer with the U.S. Treasury. It was while working there—“keeping the bad money from coming in”—that he decided to pursue his master’s degree, also with Ashford.
“I received my undergraduate degree so I knew I could take care of my family,” he says.
The couple now has a three-month-old daughter, Osumare, who Olumide credits as being one of his biggest teachers.
“When I received my master’s degree, I did that for myself because I knew I still had the fire inside me to take it a little bit further,” he says. “But even with a master’s degree, what are you going to do with that? How are you going to impact the lives around you?”
A year into the Public Administration program, Olumide learned his transfer request for NASA had been accepted. He worked there as a human resources developmental specialist for several years before transitioning to an advisory role. Today, Olumide is very directly impacting lives around him as the first point of contact for new employees at NASA’s Greenbelt, Md., facility. It is a responsibility he does not take lightly.
“You want every step you take to crack the sidewalk,” he says. “If you’re going into something with that mindset, everyone is going to feel it, and they’re going to jump onto that feeling, too. You want to make people feel as if they have reached the mountain top, because the feeling is what lasts forever.”