Each year, NASA celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month, highlighting the importance of the culture, traditions, and contributions of its workforce whose roots are from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and parts of South America. The theme of this year’s observance is “Esperanza: A Celebration of Hispanic Heritage and Hope.”
Selina Salgado, a business partner in the Office of Human Resources at Marshall Space Flight Center, shares her journey to Marshall, and what this month of celebration means to her. Salgado joined the Marshall team in January 2021, after completing a Pathways Program internship in December 2020. She also led this year’s Feds Feeds Families campaign on behalf of the center.
Name: Selina Salgado
Title: Business partner in Marshall’s Office of Human Resources
My role at NASA: “I provide human resources support to leadership and employees within the organizations. I consult on hiring, training, and employee actions, among other things.”
Years at NASA: Nearly two.
Hometown: “I was an Air Force brat, so while I was born in Bethesda, Maryland, I consider Shreveport, Louisiana, my hometown.”
My career path to NASA: “Right after high school, I joined the Navy, where I served as a culinary specialist. During my four years, I worked on a variety of ships, including a destroyer and an aircraft carrier. I was mostly in leadership positions and had a passion for helping my teams develop and find where they fit in the Navy, and this passion led me to the human resources field. After separating, I got my degree in human resource management and landed a NASA Pathways internship in the human resources office at Johnson Space Center. I actually had randomly applied to the internship as part of a class project! After graduating, the human resources office here at Marshall converted me to a full-time specialist.”
Some of the people who have influenced my life and career: “My parents are the biggest influence on my life. They have encouraged me in everything that I’ve done and pushed me to take on new experiences. I don’t think that I would be where I am in my career or life if I didn’t have my parents being excellent role models and being in my corner.”
Why I choose to do what I do: “The mission of NASA is what keeps me excited for my work. I think we do some amazing things, and I love that I get to support the people who are doing that work.”
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: “I am a fourth-generation Mexican American. My great-great grandmother wanted her children to have the best opportunities, and felt the best way to do that was to discourage Spanish-speaking in the home and assimilate as much as possible to American culture. Now, nearly 100 years later, I feel that I’ve lost touch with my Hispanic heritage. So, on a personal note, having a yearly celebration of my family’s culture is a great way for me to reconnect with it.”
What are some of your favorite memories or traditions in your culture? “One thing that we didn’t lose was the emphasis on family. We had huge multigenerational family gatherings for every holiday, no matter how small. I loved hanging out with my cousins and having sleepovers at my grandparents’ house. Even as we’ve gotten older and moved apart, we have stayed very much involved in each other’s lives. I also have a special memory of meeting my dad’s family in Texas for the first time when I was much younger. The matriarchs took my mom under their wing and taught her to make tortillas for the first time, while I looked on. Being in that kitchen, surrounded by love and the sharing of culture, has continued to be a wonderful memory.”
Editor’s note: Janet Sudnik is a public affairs officer in Marshall’s Office of Strategic Analysis & Communications.