olumide onanuga at nasa

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, his wife 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, also with Ashford.

“I received my undergraduate degree so I knew I could take care of my family,” he says. “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.”

A year into the Public Administration program, Olumide learned his transfer request for NASA had been accepted, making him a Human Resources Developmental Specialist working alongside his wife.

Now with his master’s in hand, he is grateful for his education and thinking about how to pay it forward personally and professionally.

“Reaching the finish line when it came to my education made my day because education only goes as far as you take it,” 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?”

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