Two from Suffolk to intern with NASA

Published 10:04 pm Monday, April 24, 2017

STEM programs just got even more interesting for two students at Paul D. Camp Community College.

Jeremy Williams and Jesse Pruden, both residents of Suffolk, were selected to participate in paid NASA research experiences this summer through the Virginia Space Grant Consortium’s STEM Takes Flight Build-Fly-Learn NASA Research Experiences for Virginia’s Community College Student program. Students selected for the internships will work directly with NASA research advisors and engineering directorates on a variety of projects.

“Both of these students are diligent and will represent the college well as interns,” said PDCCC Associate Professor of Information Systems Technology Bob Tureman, who recommended the students for the internships.


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Williams, 23, is in his first year at PDCCC and is working on his associate degree in science. He recently moved to Suffolk from Portsmouth and said he hopes to continue his education by transferring to Hampton University to earn a bachelor’s degree. His advisor is Carolyn Ashby, assistant professor of biology and sustainability coordinator.

Jeremy Williams and advisor Carolyn Ashby take a break from conducting some tests in the biology lab. (Submitted Photo)

“I want to be a marine biologist,” he said. “I was looking into oceanography, but what that covered was a little more specific than what I wanted. I want to deal more with all life in the ocean.” Among his duties at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) on the Eastern Shore, Williams will be assisting WFF environmental professionals in field surveys of marsh vegetation and endangered species.

He noted that his grandmother has been a go-to source of support by offering solid advice for life in general. “’Mema’ has kept me on the right track, he said. “I don’t know where I’d be [without her]. She has taught me how to become a man,” he said.

Pruden, 51, returned to college two years ago to earn his associate degree. He is an industrial technology major and is minoring in welding. He is also a work study student in the library on the Hobbs Suffolk Campus and has been selected to receive several scholarships. His advisor is Keisha Nichols, assistant professor of industrial technology.

“I realized that the lack of education was hurting my advancement in the workforce,” he said about his decision to continue his education. He also has a certificate in drafting that he earned in the 1990s.

“Although I have been encouraged to pursue a bachelor’s degree, I am looking ahead to job opportunities in the future. My career counselor agrees that the associate degree combined with a NASA internship will open doors that are not in my line of sight right now.” Pruden will participate in a mapping project at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton.

Pruden’s wife, Jan, has been his ace for encouragement during his endeavors. “She is my No. 1 supporter, along with my kids, Mary and Trey, cheering alongside of her,” he said. Pruden also noted the significant support he has received from friends, other family members and his church family at James River Community Church.

Williams and Pruden are very excited about these 10-week, hands-on opportunities, which start June 5 and May 30, respectively. Both students will also receive a $5,000 stipend.

For more information about the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, visit