Alumni Spotlight: Nancy Hallmark Self

May 27, 2009

Nancy Hallmark Self is a member of the Locust Fork High School graduating class of 1993 and a part of the first Kindergarten class at the school.  Currently, she works for Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, on a contract to NASA. She and her team work with scientists from around the world to conduct science experiments on the International Space Station.

Nancy was very active in high school.  She was a cheerleader for three years and played basketball for four years. Although she admits she was not a great basketball player, she did enjoy playing.  Actually, her most embarrassing moment occurred on the basketball court.  One basketball game, both starting guards, Barbara and Kimmy Hollis, could not play. She ended up being the point guard for that game, and did a less than stellar job. “The other team kept stealing the ball from me. It was hopeless. And, that game seemed to take forever,” she recalls.

Her best memories, however, are associated with cheerleading: the football games, singing the Alma Mater during pep rallies, riding the bus to games, and homecoming. “Every fall, when the weather starts to turn, I feel football season coming, and think about the Hornets.”

Nancy still has fond memories of her teachers. Her favorites from elementary school were Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Golden. “I always enjoyed P.E. with Mr. Golden. He would push us to do our best and then improve upon our best. I loved the track and field days. There were several of us girls who were very competitive, so that always made it more fun.”  Her favorites from high school were Coach King, Mrs. Waid, and Mrs. Cornelius. “I will never forget playing a guessing game, “Name That Element,” in Mrs. Cornelius’ chemistry class with the Periodic Table of Elements. To make learning fun like that, those things stick with you!”

After high school, Nancy attended the University of Alabama in Huntsville, majoring in Management Information Systems.  She married Damon Self, who also currently works with NASA.  She does not have children yet, but does have two Miniature Schnauzers: Lexi and Baxter. Her favorite thing to do is travel. Over the past few years, she has visited five foreign countries: Germany, Japan, Mexico, St. Lucia, and Jamaica.  Of course she hopes to plan her next vacation soon. Her parents still live in Locust Fork. She also has a sister, who is married with 5 children and lives in Center Point.

Nancy’s work with Teledyne Brown Engineering brings her in contact with many interesting people and technologies. Her role in working with the International Space Station is to develop instructions for astronaut to conduct science experiments in space.  Her team trains the astronauts and the ground team in Huntsville, who assists the crew when they conduct the experiments.  She specifically assists human research experiments, which are medical in nature. She trains the crew to perform a number of things while in space, including blood, urine, and saliva collections. They can also have the crew do a number of medical tests, from ultrasounds to pulmonary/cardiovascular measurements to calculating their weight in zero gravity. 

These experiments are vital to the future of the space program and the goal of human space travel.  The data collected helps scientists to understand how and why the human body changes in space (e.g., muscles and bones get much weaker) and perhaps ways to develop countermeasures. If NASA intends to put people back on the Moon or on Mars for an extended period of time, it is a necessity to ensure the health and safety of the astronauts. She says, “When I set out on my education and career path, I never dreamt I would be doing anything with NASA. My career has presented me with many challenges, but also, it has helped me to learn about space, science, medicine, teaching, teamwork, and people.  It has taken me places I thought I would never have had the opportunity to go.” In the past couple of years, her work has even taken her to Germany and Japan. She was in Germany on her last birthday and had one American Astronaut, one European Astronaut, and one Russian Cosmonaut sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to her!

Locust Fork High School is honored and proud to have Nancy Hallmark Self as an alumnus.  We hope she has continued success in her career and many more exciting adventures.

Past Spotlights

Jenny Fountain - Class of '95
December 2, 2005

Sam Hallman - Class of '98
January 31, 2006

Joe Hazelrig - Class of '64
September 25, 2005

Sarah Holt - Class of '58
September 19, 2006

Brett King - Class of '96
September 12, 2005

Steve Martin - Class of '82
October 26, 2005

Gary Pate - Coach and Assistant Principal 1973-1995
September 30, 2005

Gerald Swindle - Class of '87
May 2005

Darryl Wall - Class of '85 January 12, 2006

Jason Hollingsworth - Class of '91 March 18,2006

Lola Hicks - Class of '64 November 26, 2007

Cande Sanders - Class of '89
September 23, 2008

Nancy Hallmark Self - Class of '93
May 27, 2009