One School of Communication student has made a giant leap for his career.

Anthony Cusat, a third-year senior, is interning for NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Cusat, who began as a NASA summer intern, distinctly remembers the day last spring when he received word that he landed the prestigious internship. He trudged through most of the semester applying for internships, but had no luck. His friends who majored in aerospace engineering encouraged him to apply for media internship positions with NASA.

The end of May approached and he hadn’t heard anything — then he got the phone call. 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, a major research laboratory in Maryland dedicated to developing unmanned spacecrafts, was impressed with Cusat’s materials and after talking to him, offered him a summer internship as a branding new vision intern for its engineering and technology directorate. 

“I got back to my laptop and they had sent me an offer,” Cusat said. “I thought, ‘This is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’”

Over the course of the summer, Cusat worked with another intern to create a marketing proposal that would elevate the Goddard Space Flight Center’s name. 

This involved designing a new logo, building a website, and jump-starting its social media presence. It also included beginning a podcast to chat with the engineers who were behind the development of some of NASA’s foremost creations like the James Webb Space Telescope and the Roman Space Telescope.

“There are certain things that were built on-site at Goddard, but no one knows,” Cusat said. “You hear about all the end results of the science that comes with it, but never really the process of how it was built. We wanted to get our name out there in terms of how we were involved and connecting the science with the engineering work that goes on behind the scenes.”

Cusat’s supervisors were impressed with the value that the interns were able to bring to the marketing efforts. As the summer drew to a close, there was still work to be done. 

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center extended Cusat’s internship, and now he’s working 20 hours a week remotely on campus while completing his classes as a multimedia journalism and psychology double major. He’s continued to build out the website and social media sites with captivating content all while promoting the brand behind some of NASA’s biggest missions.

Professors in the School of Communication recognize Cusat’s promising talents. 

“What I came to appreciate about Anthony over the course of the class was his willingness to work hard and stay gracious and enthusiastic about it,” said Natalia Mielczarek, assistant professor who taught Cusat in multimedia reporting. “He was open to experimenting with new ways of telling stories and went after his ideas with gusto. I always knew that he’d put forth his best effort and chase after sources in service of a story. It doesn’t surprise me at all that he was chosen for the NASA internship from among scores of applicants.”

Cusat’s involvement in campus media is extensive. He writes for the Collegiate Times and fills a number of roles with WUVT-FM Blacksburg. Plus, he does more part-time work with Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) after taking a visual media class with Aaron Bond, an adjunct professor in the School of Communication and senior director of learning services for TLOS.

“I can't say enough about the talent that Anthony brings to his work in TLOS,” Bond said. “His natural ability to create and design aesthetically-appealing learning objects alongside faculty engaged in technology-enhanced teaching environments is such an asset to TLOS. Anthony stands out as a student who can easily apply his artistic ability to effectively deliver a message visually.”

Once Cusat is done working with what he calls “some of the smartest people in the world” at NASA, he’s excited to see where his career path could take him. Ideally, he’d like to merge his passions of journalism and psychology. 

Cusat’s fascination with the human brain and how the media can help form the connections we long for has charted a path forward. In particular, he’s noticed how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light mental health implications that might otherwise have been ignored. In his mind, the media plays a critical role in connecting people with resources for help and serving as an outlet for good.

“I can be someone out there making a difference by creating narratives that help someone else get through a tough time,” Cusat said. “I feel like that’s just my end goal in life is to have an impact on someone and not even realize how much of an impact I may have on them.”

Until then, Cusat is focused on finishing his final year as a student at Virginia Tech on a high note. He’s appreciative of all his professors who have furthered his passions, his many experiences in Blacksburg and beyond, and now, he’s prepared to shoot for the moon on what may be next.

“Overall, I just have joy doing everything I do here,” Cusat said.

All opinions are Cusat’s own and not NASA’s.

Written by Cory Van Dyke