Since enrolling at TCC in 2001, Mike Ray’s career path has been quite the trajectory. In fact, one could say it is out of this world.
Between his first time at TCC and when he returned to complete his associate degree, Ray served in the U.S. Army, including being stationed in Iraq. “My time in Iraq served me in a huge way!” he said. “I learned to see my hemisphere and the culture I came from in new ways.”
Ray brought those experiences with him as he returned to TCC after leaving the Army. While his military service definitely had its challenges, returning to college brought some of its own. “The academic world is so different from the blue-collar and the military worlds!” he admitted. “Adapting to life as a non-traditional student was a humbling experience, but by contrast, much safer than working in a war zone.”
Ray says he took a different path than most, enlisting later in life, mastering a skill as an electrician, and a mature athlete. “Not every person I encountered understood the culture I came from and learning to work with people from a more traditional way of life was challenging at times, but I never lost sight of the goals I had set for myself.”
After graduating with his Associate of Arts degree in 2018, Ray transferred to Texas Wesleyan University where he completed his B.S. in History in 2020.
Currently a contractor on the COMET contract for NASA’s Artemis program, Ray works as a diagnostic engineer, collecting and analyzing technical information in support of critical space flight systems. “I helped NASA launch Artemis I, on 16 November 2023 and am working on Artemis II now,” he said. Regarding the field of diagnostic engineering, Ray says, “It’s an evolving industry and even more dynamic in the context of space flight.”
Ray’s future plans include continuing to work with the Artemis program and pursuing his master’s degree in economics and his doctorate in anthropology.
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