Nash-Stevenson earns NASA’s ‘Modern Figure’ award
MADISON –NASA selected Dr. Shelia Nash-Stevenson to represent the agency as a “Modern Figure.” The honor led her to the Red Carpet Premiere of “Hidden Figures” in New York City.
“The movie is about African American women working in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields,” Stevenson said. “Since I’m the first African American female to receive a doctorate’s degree in physics in the State of Alabama and a NASA engineer, NASA felt that I would be a good representative.”
For the Academy Awards, “Hidden Figures” has been nominated for “Best Picture; “Best Supporting Actress,” Octavia Spencer; and “Writing (Adapted Screenplay).”
On Dec. 9-10, Nash-Stevenson attended the 20th-Century Fox red carpet screening and media junket for “Hidden Figures” in New York City. During the junket, she participated in several interviews with media from across the country and a live interview with AOL Build.
“I walked the red carpet on Dec. 10, which included more interviews and pictures before I actually got to see the movie premiere,” she said. “It was a really great experience.”
Nash-Stevenson has worked with NASA/MSFC since 1981, then as undergraduate summer intern. With a Graduate Student Research Fellowship, she worked at NASA from 1982 to 1984 while working on a master’s degree. She joined MSFC as a full-time employee in 1989.
Her jobs have included Electronics Engineer, Engineering Directorate; University Affairs Officer, Customer & Employee Relations Directorate; Engineer, Engineering Directorate; and Aerospace Engineer, Space Systems Program.
Currently, Nash-Stevenson works as Senior Program Integration Engineer with Planetary Missions Program Office. “Our office manages missions that explore objects in our solar system, including Jupiter, Mercury, Pluto, asteroids, comets and the moon. Our goal is to enhance the probability of mission success, which is delivering mission science to the science community,” she said.
Originally from Hillsboro in Lawrence County, she earned all her degrees at Alabama A&M University.
A charter member, Nash-Stevenson served on Madison Board of Education from 1997 to 2009.
She serves as First Missionary Baptist Church’s board member and usher. Nash-Stevenson is a charter member of Madison Rotary Club, served as vocational service chairperson and earned the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow status. She participates in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Leadership Huntsville/Madison County, Leadership Alabama, Advisory Committee for AAMU Youth Motivation Task Force and judged for Madison Family of the Year.
From her career, Nash-Stevenson will always remember her undergraduate physic professor, Dr. M. C. George, my, for realizing her potential. He “convinced me to get both of my graduate degrees in physics. I was always amazed at how he could teach a class with only a piece of chalk and chalkboard — no book. When I looked in the book, everything he taught was (there); he really knew his physics.”
Nash-Stevenson enjoys mentoring students to reach maximum potential and ‘tries to’ enjoy Bikram Yoga and Pilates.
Husband Kirby Stevenson works as a Solution Specialist for Verizon Wireless. Their daughter Kecenia is a 2017 candidate for a doctorate’s degree in pharmacy at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. Their son Keegan is enrolled in pre-med at Elms College in Chicopee, Mass.
Family vacations are a treat for them. “We love to travel,” Nash-Stevenson said.