Atmospheric Science Branch Chief Dr. Charles Gatebe

“I was born and raised in Kenya and come from a very humble background. I’m one of nine kids and the third born, meaning that I started responsibilities very early because we had to help our mother. Almost every two to three years, she had a baby, so you can imagine she was a very, very strong woman and powerful, too. When I think about that past, she is the person, and my father as well, who taught us that we can overcome any obstacle. It doesn’t matter what it is.

“I remember going to school without fees, and they would send me home. One time, when I was complaining about being sent home because of my lack of school fees, [my mother] could see I was affected by all this. She told me, ‘Those kids you see out there that look like they come from higher, well-off families came to this world the same way you came. So, you are no different than them. Don’t look at the material wealth and think you are less than them.’ 

“That’s the background that shaped me. It instilled a sense of believing in yourself. Anyone you see on the streets, their color or background doesn’t matter; we all come into this world the same way. You’re equipped with skills, so find your passion and go for it. 

“When I look at that background, it’s the one that has helped me come this far.”

– Dr. Charles Gatebe, Chief of Atmospheric Science Branch, NASA’s Ames Research Center

Image Credit: NASA / Brandon Torres
Interviewer: NASA / Tahira Allen

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