City College graduate aims for career in the space industry

MESA Program student with a love for science pursues aerospace engineering


City College graduate Shalayah-Naomi Webb smiles in Curran Plaza on May 18, 2023. Photo by Shamere Grimes/City Times Media

Shamere Grimes, Multimedia Journalist

As a homeschooled student, Shalayah-Naomi Webb had limited options for specialized classes in lab sciences like chemistry.

“My parents enrolled me at City College and I’ve been here ever since,” Webb said.

Four years later, Webb – who goes by Naomi – is completing a degree in Aerospace Engineering, hoping to accomplish her dream of working in the space industry.

“My next step after getting my degree is to work for NASA or another company involved in the space industry,” Webb, 22, said. “That’s my goal and that’s what I want to specialize in.”

 Rafael Alvarez, director of the Math Engineering Science Achievement Program program at City College, described Webb as one of his MESA Stars, which is ironic given her goal of working in the space industry.

In fall 2019, Webb was accepted into the NASA Community College Scholars program, which took her to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

After entering a robotics competition, meeting engineers and touring the facility for four days, Webb knew exactly what career she wanted to pursue.

“After that, engineering really captured my imagination and I was like, ‘ok, this is it for me,’” Webb said. “I then switched to aerospace engineering from chemistry.”

Webb will be transferring to San Diego State University to work on a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.

Upon graduation, she hopes to land her dream job at NASA.

Webb believes that society needs more women and more diversity in science, technology engineering and math and wants to leave behind advice for those seeking to enter similar fields.

“Find your community,” Webb said.