Barbara Jo Navarro

bjBarbara Jo Navarro

Barbara Jo Navarro is the recipient of the 2013 NASA Exceptional Service Medal for her outstanding leadership in Life Sciences. She also received the prestigious NASA Silver Snoopy, awarded by the U. S. Astronauts for outstanding contributions towards space flight safety and mission success. 

Role: Asst. Chief, Flight Systems Implementation Branch, NASA Ames Research Center

Major: B.A., Liberal Studies, '79

Why are you proud to be a Spartan? I came to San José State University as a freshman because it was the best university to receive an elementary education teaching degree from and it had an awesome marching band. These were two important factors in my choice. After arriving, within a year, I felt part of special community. I embraced the atmosphere and the opportunity to become my own person through my experiences and challenges. The Spartan community was considered my home. I have fantastic memories of cheering on the football and basketball teams and representing the SJSU across the state at other universities as a member of the Pep Band. This helped me develop my ability to enter new environments with confidence. My Spartan education grounded me so that I could build my career into what it is today. I am most proud that I completed my degree while paying my own way through college and that while doing this met my future husband. 

Favorite SJSU memory: My favorite memories are playing in the San José Pep Band for the SJSU Men's Basketball game.  The Pep Band traveled with the team to away games and played at alumni events.  I enjoyed representing the university and going to the different California universities.

What activities/organizations were you involved in as a student? I played in the San José State Pep Band two year when the marching band did not exist due to budget cuts.  I helped manage the Women's Swim team one season.  I was a member of the first SJSU Softball Club that led to the Women's Softball team that now exist. I participated in the Greek system, lived at the Delta Gamma house my freshman year as a boarder,  but did not join the Sorority.  I did become a Sister of the White Star at Sigma Nu Fraternity where I met my husband who I have been married to for 34 years.  

Memorable career achievements: I have several memorable career accomplishments. The two most meaningful that elevated my career were performing as the NASA Ames Stowage Manager for Space Life Sciences II, STS-40 and Neurolab, STS-90 shuttle missions.  These were two very complicated and complex life science missions with multiple experiments being flown on the shuttle for various scientists across the United States.  For my efforts on the Neurolab mission, I received an award from the STS-90 astronaut crew that flew the 17 day mission.  I have managed other experiments and also the certification of an off the shelf heart monitor that is presently being used by the astronauts on the International Space Station.  In 2006 I received the Silver Snoopy Award and last year, NASA honored me with the Exceptional Service Medal.  All of these accolades I shared with my family and friends, because without their support and my colleagues cooperation I could not have been successful.

What influenced your success in getting a job after college? Having a college education was key to getting my first full time career position, it got my foot in the door.  But to get the job that eventually put me on my career path and where I am today, was an extracurricular activity. A good friend of mine was an SJSU swimmer and through her I helped manage the Women's Swim Team for a season.  I listed this and all my extracurricular activities that I did while attending SJSU and the hiring official interviewing me had a daughter who was a swimmer and was curious about the SJSU program.  This set me apart from others who were being interviewed and landed me the job putting me on my present career paths.

Advice to current SJSU students: My advice to today's Spartan's is, just don't attend classes, get involved.  Take advantage of what San Jose State has to over you.  Explore your interests and try things that you may have never thought about.  Expand who you are and what you have to offer an employer by completing your degree and participating is being a member of the Spartan community.  If you do this and graduate, you will have an opportunity to pursue the career of your choice and you will be ready and successful.  Also once you have achieved success, give back.