Gabrielle Lee

Gabrielle Lee

Contracts Administrator

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Pasadena, CA USA

In school, I was so insecure. But understanding that I didn't have to be perfect and live up to crazy expectations from parents and society freed me. Embrace imperfection.


By Roadtrip Nation

Gabrielle Lee

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My road in life has taken me all over.
Had always dreamed of becoming a dancer and even auditioned for The Rockettes.
Attended the University of California, Irvine, where she received her bachelor’s degree in dance choreography with a minor in English.
Admits that in college, she took on way too much and, as a result, struggled with mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and OCD.
After suffering numerous injuries and dealing with exhaustion, she decided to give up dancing professionally.
Got married when she was 20 years old—her parents were initially unsupportive.
Decided to go to graduate school at Eastern Washington University, where she received her master’s degree in creative writing.
When she graduated, she found it difficult to find a job with a living wage in that field—she’s since worked as a teacher, an editor, a publisher, and a speech and writing coach.
Now works as a contracts administrator for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she manages a portfolio of projects and acts as an advocate for technical personnel when it comes to paperwork.
Keep following my journey


High School
Dance, General
University of California-Irvine
English Language and Literature, General
University of California-Irvine
Creative Writing
Eastern Washington University


Contracts Administrator

I'm an agent for technical people; I'm their advocate, guiding them through contracts bureaucracy.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

Every day is different, but it's a balance between document preparation, research on various space technologies, and mitigating client expectations. It's a lot of balancing several projects in various states of completion at one time, so essentially we're talking about project management. Something that I take upon myself to do (because I'm Type-A sometimes) is constantly think about how I can make my job easier and also save taxpayers money at the same time.

Skills & Qualities Beyond School

INTERPERSONAL SKILLS. This cannot be stated enough. Learning how to make people feel like you're on their side is everything, and learning how to negotiate with people is key. Also, the ability to think outside the box and continually think about how to re-organize things to make them better is highly valued in any industry. Learn Lean Six Sigma.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Do something. Do anything. In my experience, where you are doesn't matter as much as what you do with it. My cashiering experience at Wahoo's Fish Tacos at UCI directly led to my next job, which led to my next job, which led to my next job, and so on. None of those experiences were unimportant, even though the jobs weren't really related to one another. Treating the job like an opportunity and building something within it--even something small--can go a long way.


The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"It can't be done. You're never going to convince everyone to change."

Challenges I Overcame

Physical Issues
Mental Health Issues
Got Married Young

Interviewed By

UCI Roadtrip

UCI Roadtrip

UCI Roadtrip