Denna Lambert and NASA

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The story of American Denna Lambert resembles a typical success story: loving parents who supported Denna and her choices, a good education, a fortunate career choice, determination in achieving goals, and amazing organizational skills. Lastly, being in the right place at the right time secured her a good job and a splendid career at NASA.

What is so special about this success story? Why does it deserve our attention?

Denna Lambert was born with congenital cataracts, making her success story unconventional and extraordinary. Her residual vision allowed her to finish high school, but it required extra efforts not needed by her classmates. She had to enlarge the text on her computer and use audiobooks. Moreover, she needed additional skills to start an independent life.

After finishing school, Denna Lambert enrolled at the Louisiana Center for the Blind to learn how to use a cane, read Braille, and thereby expand her opportunities to obtain the desired education.

In a 2023 interview with American House Printing for the Blind, Lambert noted that she often faces more challenges being blind than being a black woman. This might seem incredible or even contrived at first glance, especially considering the history of African Americans, even in recent times.

However, it is the reality. Denna’s words should be trusted and heeded. According to Lambert, these difficulties arise because her white cane or guide dog is more noticeable than her gender and, especially, her skin color. Her education journey was challenging, and it didn’t get easier after she earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Fayetteville, majoring in mathematics and business.

Denna Lambert struggled to find employment. It seemed to her that she was left alone with her life and the problem of not being able to find a job that matched her passion and ambitions. She put in considerable effort and did not give up, which is probably why luck finally smiled on her, ensuring her degrees would not merely be a trivial attachment to a talented African American woman.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Denna Lambert’s success story is overcoming feelings of loneliness and worthlessness. Her ability to persevere, to keep going, to not be afraid to ask for help, and to be open to new experiences, from learning Braille to gaining new professional skills, sets her apart. Some might think her success story resembles Cinderella’s tale, but it’s far from it. Denna Lambert had no fairy godmother or glass slippers; she had loving parents and her boundless faith in herself.

Denna Lambert has been working at NASA for twenty years. Her journey there began when she caught the attention of NASA representatives at a National Federation of the Blind convention, and a year later, she received a job offer. 

Denna Lambert’s story deserves our attention as well.

It’s a call to those who can see, who don’t need to learn to navigate with a white cane or master an unusual alphabet. Living the life you want, as Denna has managed to do, even though she had far fewer opportunities than those not acquainted with constant, unending darkness or the inability to move freely. Those who didn’t need to know or be capable of more than Denna Lambert.

Denna’s advice is relevant to those who, like her, are almost or entirely blind – unite, seek those who will teach and talk with you. Don’t isolate yourself, try to do more than you think you can, and be surprised by the results.

Strangely, D. Lambert’s advice is also valuable for those who can see, who, at first glance, might not need extra effort to live and work. We should remember how often we’re tempted to give up too soon, to reject new knowledge or the acquisition of new skills.

But there’s another thing we certainly need – to notice those who cannot see, learn more about their lives, try to help them, and even better, collaborate with them as equals.