Leading by example

Alumna Monique Brown is helping inspire the next generation of women and minorities seeking careers in the STEM fields.

By Janalee Card Chmel

Publish Date: October 26, 2015

Monique Brown is a living rallying cry for women and minorities who want to study and pursue careers in STEM. Photo: Michael Richmond
Monique Brown is a living rallying cry for women and minorities who want to study and pursue careers in STEM. Photo: Michael Richmond


Monique Clavel Brown (B.S. computer information systems ’14) may be a recent graduate of MSU Denver, but she’s already inspiring the next generation of aerospace and advanced engineering professionals.

A living rallying cry for women and minorities who want to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Brown leads by example — and with great enthusiasm. “Do you want to be part of a team that helps do something huge?” she is known to ask.
The work she’s referring to is Lockheed Martin’s creation and launch of Orion, which will one day lead NASA’s deep-space exploration. Brown was an intern at Lockheed when Orion launched in December 2014; today she is part of the company’s Leadership Development Program, a three-year, paid “leadership boot camp” for Lockheed.
 
And Brown knows a thing or two about boot camp: She’s a 10-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
 
After graduating from high school in 2000, Brown enrolled at MSU Denver only to realize she wasn’t ready for school. She enlisted in the Air Force and spent 10 years on deployments in places as diverse as Italy, California, Idaho, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia (all while raising two boys, now ages 10 and 9).
 
When Brown decided it was time to leave the service and return to school, she knew exactly what she wanted to study: computer information systems. In doing so, Brown followed a trail blazed by other women in her family. “My grandmother was a computer programmer,” said Brown. “She started with key punch cards for the Department of Defense and worked 25 years in computer programming. Then my mom and sister went into it.”
 
Brown set her sights on a career with Lockheed Martin because of her respect for and excitement about the company and its mission. Her mother had worked there and loved it.
 
Knowing that MSU Denver is on the verge of launching a new program in aerospace and engineering sciences, including a state-of-the-art building, Brown encourages other young scientists and engineers to look into aerospace and to pursue advanced manufacturing careers that the industry increasingly needs. 
 
“When we saw Orion go up … Wow! There is no feeling like that!” she said. “I know someone who worked on the heat shield. Even if you did just one line of code for the security of Orion, you could say, ‘I was a part of that!’ It is amazing to be around this type of work.”