This NASA space scientist is teaching his daughter to shoot for the moon

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

It’s no doubt that intellectual curiosity, hard work and education were the essential ingredients that led to Dr. Ramsey Smith’s career path as a technology infusion manager and space scientist for NASA. And as opportunities for African Americans within the STEM world seem few and far between, Dr. Smith not only excels at his role, but he shines.

Though his job may come with a hefty responsibility for advancements in STEM and technology, his top priority, however, is within his own household.

The doting husband and father of a 2-year-old daughter, Genevieve, will soon grow his family into 4, with a son on the way. And with Dr. Smith at the head of the household as a leading example that dreams are possible, who knows, he may even be raising his very own “hidden figure.”

In an interview with theGrio for our #ThisIsBlackFatherhood series, Dr. Smith speaks on the gift of fatherhood, how it’s changed him, and the lessons he learned from his own dad.


TG: What year did you become a father?

RS: 2014.

TG: What is the name/age of your child(ren)?

RS: Genevieve, who is 2.5 years old and a little boy who will be here any day now.

TG: What does fatherhood mean to you?

RS: Fatherhood is the most rewarding gift I’ve ever received. Genevieve has been an amazing blessing to my wife Madelina and I. She’s our “Rocket Girl” – intelligent, beautiful and fearless. Our hopes and dreams all bottled into a little ball of energy. For us, it is most important to nurture her potential and ensure that she is afforded every opportunity to become whatever she wants to be in life.

TG: Has fatherhood changed you at all? If so, how?

RS: Absolutely! Since becoming a father I’m a different person – a better person. My daughter’s unconditional love gives me a sense of peace and joy that I have never experienced. She is my number one priority and she knows Daddy will do anything for her. My daughter is so inquisitive – she is constantly challenging me. In a sense we are growing together and I’m a better man for it. She truly brings out the best in me.

TG: What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learned since becoming a father?

RS: She has taught me patience, selflessness and to always expect the unexpected. As a scientist, I’m use to everything being by the book. Our research is based on hard core data. Children are unpredictable, so in most cases you have to throw out the data and go with your instincts and what is ultimately best for your child. You have to be open to any and everything and remain calm when everything around you may be in chaos. Genevieve definitely keeps us on our toes.

TG: What’s the difference between a father and dad?

RS: Fathering a child is a biological act. Being a Dad means actually raising your child and being an active participant in your child’s life. There are many dads out there who don’t have biological children, but they care about the growth and development of our young people. This is so important, especially in communities of color. Black men must stand in the gap for our children – biological or not.

TG: Did your father have a big presence in your life? If so, what were some of the lessons that you learned from him, that you put into practice once you became a father?

RS: My Dad was a huge presence in my life. He taught me to believe in myself and never settle for average outcomes when you have the potential to be great. He made it a priority to spend time with me and nurture my abilities. He pushed me when I needed to be pushed and even let me fail if he believed it would help me grow into the man I am today. As I raise my daughter, I see more and more of the lessons he taught me manifest themselves and I am so grateful to be able to pass along that wisdom to my child.