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NASA researcher and ONU grad now Olivet professor

Posted: Oct 01, 2012

Heather Makarewicz

After studying both engineering and mathematics at Olivet, Heather (Bachelor) Makarewicz’07 fulfilled a life-long dream by working at NASA.

She began her internship with NASA the summer before her senior year at ONU. While completing her master’s degree in mathematics at the University of Kansas, she was accepted into a fellowship program, researching the mineral content of the surface of Mars.

After spending three summers there, Heather was hired on as a research assistant at the
NASA Graduate Student Researchers Program (GSRP), where she worked for a year. 

From a young age, Heather was fascinated with the space program and wanted to be an astronaut.

“I was very interested in astronomy and geology, as well as the design and development of space shuttles,” she says. “In middle school, I researched the careers of many astronauts. At that point, I decided I wanted to be an engineer and someday work for NASA.”

Even before graduating from college, Heather achieved her goal — but not without the help of the rigorous and supportive academic community at Olivet Nazarene University.

“The combination of engineering and math was a solid background for my research with NASA. It combined math, science, engineering and computer programming.  My background at Olivet gave me the ability to tackle this kind of project.”

Now back at Olivet as an adjunct professor, Heather counts it a privilege to work among mentors.  She cites math professors Dr. Atkinson and Dr. Hathaway as two instructors who made an especially profound impact on her education.

Heather is also wife to ONU engineering professor Joseph Makarewicz, and mom to their two kids, Scarlette (2 ½) and Berenger (10 months).

Heather is being recognized for her achievements this coming November as recipient of the ONU Young Alumni Award during Olivet’s annual Homecoming celebration.