PHutures – 100 Alumni Voices »

Erin Villareal

“That sort of opened up a whole new world to me. I was like, I am not qualified to look at this, but you know the thing is that I was on a team. It wasn’t just me, and that was sort of the lightbulb moment for me, is that I don’t have to work in isolation.”

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Near Eastern Studies, PhD 2018

Senior Analyst at U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Erin’s Podcast Episode

In this episode, we discuss wet led Erin to pursue a career in the federal government, how she utilizes her academic skillset as a humanist in her current role in the Government Accountability Office, and the importance of assessing how our personal values align with potential career fields.

Learn More About Erin’s Story

After serving in the Navy during WW2, my grandfather, Joseph Efrain Villareal, worked for the Department of Defense and NASA on a tracking vessel during the Apollo missions. These vessels would establish radio contact with astronauts and other personnel involved in the missions. This photo is meaningful to me because I have countless memories of my grandfather recounting his time on the vessel and the important work he did for space exploration. This document also survived a house fire in El Paso, Texas, which makes it even more important to me. I know my grandfather was not the only Mexican-American on these missions, and I have always wanted to further explore these untold stories.

When I made the decision to pursue a career in civil service, my grandfather was never far from my mind. His service during the Apollo missions and his perspectives on science and technology played a huge role in my own decision. When I started my career as an analyst at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), I was assigned to a job reviewing NASA’s Artemis missions to the moon and beyond. I was able to go to Kennedy Space Center, and see much of the infrastructure that allowed the Apollo missions to occur. It was a great experience!