BK News

Dr. Shannon Statham '00


Get to know Dr. Shannon Statham, BK alumna from the Class of 2000. Shannon is an integration and test engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory located in Pasadena, California. She attended grade school at Christ the King Catholic School, earned undergraduate degrees from the University of North Florida and the University of Central Florida and went on to earn an M.S. and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Shannon has received numerous professional awards and accolades, including the Amelia Earhart Fellowship.


Shannon did not always aspire to work at NASA. Up through high school, she hadn’t even considered engineering, let alone a Ph.D. and career in aerospace. Her English teacher at Bishop Kenny, Mr. Frank Smyth helped Shannon realize her potential, motivating her to be a better student and to be enthusiastic about her college and career prospects. Knowing this potential led to an exploration of opportunities in college which, combined with the inspiration from her proximity to the Kennedy Space Center while attending UCF, ultimately led Shannon to where she is now. Shannon states that her biggest challenge in getting there was keeping her focus on long-term goals rather than short-term struggles during difficult classes. She stated, “Discipline is showing up every day; motivation comes and goes.” It was through this self-motivation and discipline that she got through her Ph.D. at Georgia Tech and continues to thrive at JPL today. 


As an integration and test engineer, Shannon’s responsibilities include running the facilities that simulate launch (think - generating rocket launch vibrations to ensure the spacecraft can survive the ride to space). She also works extensively with CubeSats, which are mini satellites. CubeSat projects that she worked on include RACE, MarCO, and RainCube. The latter of the three is a project Shannon considers her favorite. Shannon has been the Project Manager on RainCube, which is still an operating satellite, from the very beginning, including leading the team that proposed the mission concept to NASA and acquired the funding. Shannon most recently worked on Sentinel-6, an ocean science mission, which is scheduled to launch from the west coast on November 10th.


Shannon outlined what makes a NASA mission successful: “First you must have curiosity and want to ask the hard questions. Then you need ingenuity and must challenge yourself to think outside the box, followed by hard work and dedication. Then you finish with lots of collaboration with peers and industry partners to make the mission a complete success.” She explained that these attributes (curiosity, creativity, dedication, and teamwork) are also helpful to being successful in college and in your career.


In her free time, Shannon enjoys sewing and staying active. She began salsa dancing in 2006 and met her husband through her dance partner at Georgia Tech. Shannon has fond memories of her high school years and said, “I truly loved participating in the BK chorus! I made friends for life in the choir.” Her piece of advice to students is this, “Do not let the pressure of needing to make decisions about your future inhibit or prevent you from making a decision at all. Be decisive, choose the best option(s) based on what you know today, and understand that you can always make changes along the way.”

Follow Dr. Shannon Statham’s blog for more information about her career and interests and to keep up with future projects: https://www.statham.space/

October Student of the Month: Matthew Helow

Congratulations to Senior Matthew Helow who has been named the BKHS October student of the month.  He was selected for Most School Spirit highlighting Enthusiasm & Leadership.  Matthew loves everything Bishop Kenny and is the last of 10 Helow children to attend BK.  He is the captain of the varsity football team and thankful for the leadership role that it entails.

Matthew has a strong academic schedule and also finds the time to be very involved in extra-curricular activities. He puts his faith first and has over 225 volunteer hours and enjoys helping with Camp I am Special.  He was a member of Catholic Athletes for Christ and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Matthew is happiest on the football field and fine tuning his position as a defensive safety.  Matthew is passionate about all sports and said, “I love to elevate the team’s energy by driving the student section to be loud and enthusiastic – it can be a game changer!” He would like to attend a school in the South Eastern Conference and major in business.

National Merit Semi-Finalist:  Hallie Knight

Bishop Kenny High School is proud to announce that Hallie Knight, (17) Class of 2020, has been named a National Merit Semifinalist having scored in the top 1% in the country.  In October of 2019, more than 70,000 high school juniors from throughout the state of Florida took the PSAT.  Of those students 879 have been designated as semifinalists due to their high scores on the test.  2021 National Merit Scholarship Program finalists will be confirmed in February in 2021.

Hallie maintains a rigorous academic schedule and has a 4.41 GPA.  She is actively involved in the greater Jacksonville community accumulating over 429 service hours.  She loves participating in mission trips and is an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion at BK.  Hallie is a member of the Science, Mu Alpha Theta, and National Honor Societies and an Interact Club board member.  She enjoys running and is a member of the cross country and track and field teams.  

Hallie said that, “BK allowed me to combine academic courses and AP art along with encouraging my love for community outreach.  They all bring me a sense of joy that I want to continue with throughout my life.”  She would like to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology majoring in chemical engineering with plans to pursue a higher level degree in sciences.

Congratulations are also extended to seniors Jose Gallo and Yousif Shakoury, who were also recognized as Commended Students in the National Merit program.  This distinction was also based on their outstanding PSAT scores.