March 23, 2022
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Veterans Showcase: Alexis Massey

Carrie L Martin, martin59 [at] llnl.gov, 925-424-4715

The Veterans/Military Outreach and Recruiting Program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is committed to supporting and recruiting military students, reservists, active duty and transitioning service men, women and veterans. The program’s initial focus on recruiting and hiring has aided directly in the employment of many veterans, with many more serving in internships ranging from four weeks to one year, supporting the critical mission, values and priorities of the Lab. 

LLNL is proud to showcase staff members who have served in the armed forces or are currently serving, to exemplify the Laboratory’s commitment to veterans and armed forces service members.

Meet Alexis Massey

Alexis Massey is no stranger to adversity. Through raw determination and the pursuit of finding a purpose, Massey persevered through a rocky upbringing, served in the military and, through a unique program, found her way to LLNL.  

The youngest of three kids, Massey was raised by a single mom. Due to family issues involving addiction and instability, she spent most of her childhood moving around in the Bay Area and Central Valley of California. In a span of less than five years, she recalled having moved seven times — five of which were during the four years she spent in high school. “Even though I was exposed to several 'less-than-normal' circumstances and dealt with toxic environments," she said, "I had a lot of external role models and friends that I looked to for support. I fully believe all my experiences growing up is what led me down the path to become the person I am today.”

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In third grade, Massey’s teacher taught her how to properly fold a flag on Memorial Day. Little did she know, she would one day be folding flags for real and honoring the flag just the same.

Massey was put in a position to learn how to navigate much of the world independently and at a very young age. “Unfortunately, the constant uprooting and movement throughout my adolescence had a significant impact on my academic performance and school attendance,” she said. “This factor, along with the fact that I was working multiple jobs as a teenager and had virtually no parental supervision or guidance, led me to being referred to independent study my senior year of high school.”

Massey first developed an interest in joining the military during her freshman year of high school. “The military was appealing to me because I felt drawn to serving our country and had the desire to do something meaningful,” she said. “I also was interested in gaining the unique skills that the military offers.”

After graduating high school, Massey attended Las Positas College in Livermore for two years before enlisting in the United States Air Force in 2014.

“When I left for boot camp, I had no idea what my job was going to be,” she said. “I took an open general contract that allowed the Air Force to pick a job for me based off test scores and my background. This led me to my incredibly rewarding specialty as a geospatial intelligence analyst.”

Following basic military training and technical training in Texas, Massey’s first assignment was at Beale Air Force Base in California, where she conducted high-altitude, still imagery and geospatial fusion analysis. From there, she spent the next four years assigned to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii where she mostly conducted full-motion video imagery analysis as an imagery mission supervisor and primary instructor. Massey primarily worked with the MQ-9 Reaper that provides persistent surveillance and is the primary offensive-strike unmanned aerial vehicle for the Air Force.

While on active duty, Massey completed an associate of applied science degree in intelligence studies and technology through the Community College of the Air Force and spent six months attached to the base honor guard unit.

“I know that six years of service doesn’t seem like a long time or that it could make a life-changing impact on someone, but I believe the military has impacted me in almost every way possible," she said. "I am who I am, I am where I’m at and I’m going to where I’m going because of what I gained from the military. It gave me much more than I ever imagined for myself, and it has opened so many doors and opportunities. I went into the Air Force with a wide sense of independence and responsibility for a young person and I left with an even wider sense of teamwork, confidence, pride, knowledge and so many valuable skills.”

Massey first came to LLNL in 2020 through a unique Department of Defense (DoD) program called SkillBridge. SkillBridge allows active-duty service members the opportunity to gain civilian work experience during their last several months of service. “When I was deciding if I wanted to extend my contract with the Air Force or get out and pursue a new path — which was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made — I discovered SkillBridge and reached out to LLNL to see if there might be any opportunities compatible with my military skills. Luckily for me, there was and that is how I got to the Lab,” she said.

Massey’s military background and experience as an intelligence analyst has been a benefit to LLNL and has helped her tremendously in navigating her current role, where she serves as an export licensing analyst in Global Security’s Z Program. In this role, she conducts all-source research and end-user analysis in the area of nonproliferation and arms control on behalf of the Department of Energy for the Department of Commerce. Her work focuses on foreign entities from civil and military sectors associated with nuclear, chemical, biological and advanced aerospace technologies.

“Aside from my technical skills, I think the soft skills I gained from being in the military also have contributed to my current pursuit here at the Lab and will continue to help me grow in my career,” she said.

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In her spare time, Massey enjoys spending time outdoors with her chocolate lab, Scout.

Massey faced many adversities prior to her military career, but she didn’t let them stop her from persevering. “I had to support myself at a young age and I faced many challenges along the way,” she said. “I was able to avoid allowing life to drag me down into a lifestyle that got me nowhere and instead, I used adversity as my crutch to grow and learn so much along the way. When I got into the military, I was aware that being a woman in a male-dominated organization might have its unique set of challenges and I witnessed and experienced situations where my abilities were questioned, sometimes based off my gender, sometimes based off rank, age or where I come from. What’s important is to always know that you are capable and have the confidence to face adversity head on and that’s exactly what I did.”

Massey is continuing her educational pursuits and is currently enrolled full-time at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, pursuing a bachelor’s in geography with a concentration in regions and cultures. She is on target to finish by next spring. Aside from her current professional and academic ambitions, Massey enjoys the outdoors with her chocolate lab, Scout, wine tasting with friends, mentoring, traveling, recreational shooting and adventurous sports and activities.

Massey’s primary goal is focused on finishing up her bachelor’s degree, while building upon her technical and analytical skills on the job. “Looking forward, I want to make myself as competitive as I can and hope to advance my career at LLNL. The Lab is a fantastic way to continue pursuing meaningful work post-military service and the Lab values its veterans and values the diversity that they bring to the mission here,” she said.