ITTA BENA, Miss— The Mississippi Valley State University community received a behind the scenes look at the nation’s outer space program Thursday during a “NASA Day at The Valley” event.
Darryl C. Gaines, a 1988 MVSU graduate and current assistant to the center director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, spoke with university students, faculty, staff and the general public about NASA.
Also, Gaines and his colleague shared information about funding for research, mentorship, internships and career opportunities.
“When I was a student at Valley, one of the things I was so impressed with was seeing former students coming back and speak,” said Gaines. That impressed on me how important that is. Coming back to Valley to me is a part of the whole Valley community of giving back and being an advocate and letting the students see that there are opportunities out there and all they need to do is reach out for it,” he added.
Gaines is a native of Mobile, Ala. He was awarded a four-year scholarship to play football and majored in Computer Science with a minor in mathematics at MVSU. With this in mind, Gaines shared his story in regards to his time at MVSU and how valuable his experiences were.
“Not being from Mississippi and having a loving campus family was everything to me. Dr. Carolyn Ford and the other instructors here made Valley feel like a family, and she was like a mother to me,” Gaines said.
The event was held in the Cliff E. Williams Auditorium, located in the Business Education Building. Informational sessions were held for students, and there was an informational session for faculty and staff research opportunity.
Participants in the event also had the chance to view the NASA Headquarters using Google Goggles technology.
Jourdan Beverly, a senior computer science and electronic engineer major from Chicago, said that the experience was enjoyable.
“I thought it is noble that Mr. Gaines wanted to come back and show where your degree from Valley can take you. I know a lot of people don’t understand how valuable an education from Valley can be, so it was great that he came back to share with his Valley family,” Beverly said.
“Our teachers are very good, and they go beyond to help us. They are not going to give you anything; you have to work for it,” she added.
As a member of the Center Director’s staff, Gaines is responsible for policy development, staff relations, strategic planning, and management integration of technical, mission support, and communications activities for the organization of approximately 3000 civil servants and 8500 contractors.
He has been employed with NASA for 25 years and previously with McDonnell Douglas Aircraft for three years. Before becoming the Assistant to the Center Director, Darryl was the Deputy Manager of the International Space Station (ISS), Program Planning and Control (PP&C) Office where he was responsible for managing an annual budget of $3.8 billion and led both NASA civil servants and contractors.
Darryl was selected by the National Football League (NFL) Kansas City Chief’s in 1988 and managed a dual career working for McDonnell Douglas aircraft while playing for the Chiefs. He is a current member of the Former NFL Players Association, Houston Chapter where he volunteers in activities to help schools, families, and children.
To view scenes from NASA Day at The Valley click here