Bright Futures: NHS’s Healey’s future in the stars

Published 5:36 pm Monday, June 13, 2016

NEDERLAND — Lauren Healey’s future is in the stars.

The Nederland High School valedictorian has been fascinated with space since the eighth grade and will be heading to the University of Texas where she will major in mechanical engineering.

She hopes this will lead to a job at SpaceX which designs, manufactures and launches rockets and spacecraft with the “ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets,” according to SpaceX’s website.

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“Space is interesting,” Healey said. “And I think most people probably ponder the universe.”

She credits Bill Decker, her eighth grade algebra teacher at C.O. Wilson Middle School, with sparking her interest in space.

“Mr. Decker loved NASA. He had model rockets on the ceiling and posters in the classroom,” Healey said. During the course the class made and launched a model rocket.

Decker remembers his former student Healey.

“This is a young lady that whatever she wants to do she can do it,” Decker said. “She’s more than equipped to take on any challenge she might face.”

During summers Decker works with the high school aerospace scholars program and has integrated this field into his classroom in Nederland as a way to introduce engineering and math, he said.

“Lauren is an outstanding student and when I heard she was named valedictorian, it didn’t surprise me,” he said. “She will be able to do very well in anything she does.”

NHS teacher Michael Perryman also attests to Healey’s academic success.

“Over the past three years with coaching ready writing and now English IV AP I have come to know and appreciate Lauren Healey,” Perryman said. “She is delightfully spontaneous and energetic and her willingness to learn is unsurpassed. She presents a quiet demeanor outside of class but her energy is explosive in the classroom. She challenges this teacher to be better. I have learned from and hope I have contributed to the education of this fine young woman.”

When asked if she set out to be at the top of her class she paused a moment to think.

“I remember writing a story to myself in Ms. (Vickie) Barfield’s freshman English class,” Healey said. She found the letter, addressed to her self recently. “I wrote something about aiming to valedictorian but would be find with salutatorian or in the top10 percent as an honor grad or other high ranking spot.”

The top student said one of the deciding factors that led her to choose UT was the fact that SpaceX recruits from the university, she added.

During her down time she enjoys playing fantasy style video games such as The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

She’s looking forward to the move to Austin and believes it’s a good place to be as an engineer.

“Austin is booming, it’s the new Silicon Valley,” she said.

Her younger sister may be on the road toward the top spot in the future. Samantha “Sammy” Healey was recently named highest ranking freshman. Ironically, Healey points out, this was the only such designation she did not receive.

“I got highest ranking sophomore, junior and senior but not freshman,” she said.

Healey is the daughter of Richard and Keri Healey.

Mary Meaux: 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews