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Meet: Stephenie Lievense

Outreach Specialist, Mars Public Engagement
Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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Who I Am
I grew up in Tucson, Arizona and St. Louis, Missouri. Until I was about 8, I wanted to be a Rockette in New York City. My mom taught tap-dancing, and I thought I was great at it, so I figured I would go to New York and tap-dance forever. In fifth grade, I helped tutor a girl in my class. She had a learning disability and had trouble with math. I found the experience so rewarding that I decided that I wanted to be a teacher. When I was in 6th grade, we moved from Tucson to St. Louis. In high school I got interested in writing. I went to college at Indiana University where I majored in Journalism. I loved the idea of learning a little about a lot of different things and then re-telling what I learned to the public. I also did a lot of theatre and acting in high school and thought I would like to be in front of the camera as a broadcaster. After college, I took a break from writing, and worked for Disney in their corporate retail offices. It was a new job in California, and I was excited to live there, but I quickly learned that I missed writing and education.

So, about a year ago, I started working at JPL in the Mars Public Engagement Program office. I get to do all the things I love. Whether I'm talking to scientists and engineers or watching rover parts being built or even taking a trip through the Mars yard, it seems like I'm always having fun. I feel very lucky to do what I get to do!

What I Do
These days I'm very excited about the Mars Exploration Rover Mission. I spend my time working on education programs for kids and adults. One of the coolest things I'm working on is the Mars Visualization Alliance. Through this program, museums will have access to the images that the Mars Exploration Rovers take while they explore Mars. It makes me feel good to be part of a program that will get so much information to so many people. I also love doing webcasts like these, teaching girl-scouts and girl-scout leaders about Mars and helping to coordinate the Imagine Mars project.

Free Time!
I am currently in school again, working towards my Master's in Education. This means that much of my free time is taken up in classes and homework. But when I do get a break, I like to read, hike, travel, bake and play with my puppy. My husband and I love to take our dog - Chase - on hikes in the San Gabriel Mountains. Chase absolutely loves the water, and usually comes home a big muddy mess - but we love him anyway! I try to get to St. Louis to visit my family at least a couple times a year. My brother just moved to Atlanta so I will get to do even more traveling!


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