The story of Trena Ferrell, Education Specialist, and Mark Branch, Aerospace
Engineer, is of a marriage made at Goddard. They first met at the Goddard
Visitor Center in May 2008. They are now engaged to be married.
Ferrell was working with NASA Explorer Schools, a partnership between
NASA and high-poverty, high-minority schools to get students interested in
science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. That particular
day, she had students from a NASA Explorer School in Baltimore and
needed a speaker familiar with that area. Her supervisor mentioned Branch,
so Ferrell arranged for him to speak to the kids.
Unknown to Ferrell, that day Branch was being shadowed by ABC News for a
segment on him that eventually aired on Good Morning American in January
2009. This was the first of many pleasant surprises from Branch.
In speaking to the kids, Branch, who moonlights as hip-hop spin master “DJ
Scientific,” assumed that persona. He emphasized the correlation between
music and science and encouraged the kids to “shoot for the stars” and even
to become NASA scientists and engineers.
Ferrell was most impressed.
Ferrell sent Branch a written thank you note, which led to a series of emails
and phone calls and eventually a dinner invitation to his country club. They
became friends first, then romantic interests later, sometime around the
beginning of 2009. At that time, while Branch was on vacation, Ferrell saw
the Good Morning America piece on him, and called him so that they could
watch it together.
Over Memorial Day weekend 2009, Ferrell met Branch’s entire family at a
picnic. Unknown to Ferrell, Branch’s mother discretely told him that Ferrell
was “the one for him.” When someone is both your mother and a school
principal, you listen.
On Father’s Day 2009, Branch met Ferrell’s father at the country club. Again
without Ferrell’s knowledge and in absolute secrecy, Branch formally asked
her father for her hand in marriage. Her father gave his consent.
The big engagement happened on June 30, 2009 at the Visitor Center where
they had first met. Again, without Ferrell’s knowledge, early that morning
Branch called her mother asking her permission to marry Ferrell. She consented.
He also called a colleague, who arranged for Goddard photographer
Pat Izzo to be present at the Visitor Center for the big moment.
Later that day, Branch called Ferrell requesting some educational materials
for students at the Visitor Center. Ferrell raced over with the educational
materials. To Ferrell’s total shock and surprise, Branch proposed then and
there. Branch got down on one knee, offering a dozen roses, a beautiful card,
and a gorgeous ring. Izzo captured the entire proposal. Having worked as a
DJ for the NFL Players’ Gala, Branch knows how to stage a production with
pageantry. Unfortunately, Ferrell could not then go to lunch with Branch as
she had a prior commitment involving a lunch event with the Center Director,
who trumps even new fiancés.
Ferrell’s and Branch’s wedding will be in early summer at the country club.
Their story is indeed a Goddard fairy tale.
Elizabeth M. Jarrell