NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars

Jordan Watkins: Accounting for a future with NASA

Jordan WatkinsNestled in the rolling hills of Birmingham, Alabama, lies Lawson State Community College, a nationally ranked historically black college that is home to the courageous Cougars and Jordan Watkins, a Lawson State and NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) alum.

Watkins, a Birmingham native, did not venture far for a higher education or ever consider pursuing it. In fact, it was not until late in her high school career at Hoover High that she decided to go for an undergraduate accounting degree. Hoover is a college-prep high school that allows students to attend specific "academies" that will prepare them for upper-level college coursework. This did not appeal to Watkins.

"In middle school, academies would come talk to us, trying to get us to join," Watkins said. "I didn't want to join one, but my mom finally convinced me to join the Finance Academy."

Through the Finance Academy, Hoover High laid the foundation for a degree in business administration, but Watkins still found herself unsure of what to do in the future. After some deliberation, she reluctantly declared herself an accounting major at Lawson, but feared she dove in too deep.

"I geared away from accounting at first because I psyched myself out, thinking it would be too difficult," Watkins said. "But I began to enjoy aspects of it and see its usefulness in life, and realized it is not as hard as it seemed."

Thriving on her newfound confidence, Watkins took every opportunity presented to propel herself further as a student and working professional, advising others to do the same. During her time at Lawson, she maintained a 4.0 GPA, served as vice president of the student body, was Kappa Beta Delta's vice president and president of Phi Beta Lambda, to name a few achievements from her ever-growing résumé.

Watkins said, "I didn’t start off as being super motivated. I got into a few organizations and saw the impact it was making on other people's lives."

She never looked back.

Watkins first heard about the NCAS program through one of her professors. Watkins applied on a whim, not expecting a reply. She was admitted through the surprisingly easy application process and registered for a four-month online course, where the real work began. In mid-April, Watkins took one giant leap to NASA's Glenn Research Center, where she led her NCAS team in promotions, a form of business she had not yet encountered.

"I am still shocked I got to work with NASA," Watkins said. "I got a taste of what I could really do and got to see people respond positively to my work. Doing this program really influenced my thoughts on a future career."

Watkins insists failure is a part of success. Working through NCAS with team members she had never met, who had different ideas about time management and communication, made team cohesion difficult.

"You must be patient and willing to adapt," Watkins said. "Take advantage of every opportunity. Put yourself out there and never have predetermined expectations. You don't know what will come out of it. Do not be afraid to pursue your passions."

Inspired by her NCAS experience and following her schooling at Lawson, Watkins has decided that she will attend the University of Alabama for a bachelor’s degree in accounting. Her ultimate goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant. Thanks to her experience with NASA, Watkins will continue to explore her full potential.

-Jordan Watkins, NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars (NCAS) alum