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NASA Deputy Director to address HBCU students about STEM careers

Vanessa E. Wyche, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, will host a conversation and information series for students from South Carolina’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) who are interested in STEM-related careers.

Wyche’s conversation with students about her historic career journey will be held on Monday, Feb. 10, at 11 a.m. at Allen University’s Chapelle Auditorium. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by The Renaissance Foundation of South Carolina in conjunction with Allen University’s Office of Counseling and Placement and an area chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

The conversation is a continuation of The Renaissance Foundation’s commitment to expose students in the Midlands to African American icons that might not necessarily frequent the area. Past speakers have included movie and television director Anthony Hemingway (Red Tails); Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Head of Design Ralph Gilles (designer of the award-winning Chrysler 300); architect Harvey B. Gantt (first black mayor of Charlotte, N.C., and first black student at Clemson University); journalist and playwright Peter Bailey (Malcolm, Martin, Medgar); and several nationally known artists. The purpose of this event is to increase students’ awareness of the career opportunities available to them as a result of their participation in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs.

A Conway, South Carolina, native, Wyche is the first African American to serve as deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, an organization of 10,000 civil service and contractor employees in Houston, and at the White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico. As second-in-command of Johnson, her responsibilities include leadership of NASA’s astronauts, mission control operations, the International Space Station, development of human spaceflight programs and spacecraft for missions in low-Earth orbit and future missions to the moon and Mars.

Wyche is an advocate of mentoring and is a passionate promoter of STEM. She said she follows the example set by her parents, who both gave back to their community. She counts her father as her most influential mentor.

Wyche has garnered numerous honors, including two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, two NASA Achievement Medals, two JSC Innovation Awards and a 2014 Women at NASA award. A graduate of Clemson University, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and a Master of Science in Bioengineering.

For more information, call The Renaissance Foundation of South Carolina at (803) 733-5634 or visit www.rfoundationsc.com.

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