Kavough Jernigan
Kavough Jernigan

What is your cultural background? Where did you grow up?
I am a Black American. Born and raised in south Florida, I grew up in the city of Homestead just south of Miami. My cultural background has a significant mix of Caribbean and Latin influence but is deeply rooted in agriculture and military service. My grandparents were farm hands for most of their youth just like their parents before them. It was not until my mother’s generation where most of the men went on to serve in the military.

How do you support NNSA?
I am a NNSA Graduate Fellow in the Infrastructure Planning and Integration Division. As a fellow, I support various planning analytics and projects that support infrastructure planning efforts and metrics across the NNSA. Also, as a fellow, I’m learning all that can be learned about the national security enterprise.

How did you become interested in the field you are in? How did you end up on this career path?
I’d like to credit my interest in national security and nuclear security to my hometown. I grew up next to Homestead Air Reserve Base and within 10 miles of the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant. I would spend hours watching the various aircraft fly overhead, trying to figure out their purpose in the Air Force. Nevertheless, I knew that I wanted to be a part to the defense of our nation. My matriculation into the universities I attended solidified my desire to be in this career field. I gained my bachelor’s in Political Science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and my master’s in International Affairs from American University. My post-graduate educational experience was filled with world events that affected our nation’s national security agenda, which inspired me to pursue the career I am now in.

What is one of your favorite things about working at NNSA?
One of my favorite things about working at the NNSA is the sheer number of programs the NNSA operates in support of national security. From nuclear science research to nonproliferation, the NNSA has the autonomy to adapt the national laboratories’ research to meet any and all needs of the nation.

What are the characteristics of the best teams you have been part of? 
Some of the best teams that I have been a part of were multi-disciplinary and diverse in nature. Bringing together individuals from different backgrounds and skillsets to work in a team setting has produced great teams. I have been fortunate to have been a part of several such teams and have witnessed creative ideas flow into solving complex issues.

What advice would you give to members of the Black community who want to do what you do for NNSA? 
Anyone in the Black community who wishes to work for the NNSA must understand our mission. The NNSA is in the business of national security through the application of nuclear science. Whether you come from a technical background or a policy background, nuclear weapon stewardship and national security through nuclear science is the mission that everyone at the NNSA works towards together.

How will you celebrate Black History Month?
This Black History Month, I’ll be participating in several community outreach services through my fraternity, Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Incorporated.

What leader or cultural figure would you like to recognize this month?
This Black History Month, I’d like to recognize Edward R. Dudley, the first African American to hold the rank of Ambassador in the United States. Ambassador Dudley was also an avid civil rights activist. I’d like to thank Ambassador Dudley for his service to his country during a time when Black Americans were treated unjustly across the nation.