NASA People

Center Snapshot: Michael Allen
04.20.09
Michael Allen. Image above: Michael Allen has begun his busy days by guarding the gates of NASA Langley since December 2007. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

By: Denise Lineberry

There is more than meets the eye to friendly security guard Michael Allen, who works the Wythe Creek gate of NASA Langley.

As full-time security officer, a staff sergeant at Langley Air Force Base and a nursing student at Hampton University, Allen doesn't have very much free time.

After leaving NASA Langley each workday, he works in the Optometry Clinic at Langley Air Force Base, assisting the optometrist in visual screening tests. Allen takes nursing classes at night.

Starting in January, Allen will begin an eight-week rotation of nursing clinicals at Mary Immaculate Hospital, Riverside Hospital, Sentara Hospital and the VA Hospital Medical Center. "Everyone is required to do at least 600 clinical hours, and 25 percent can be done on the human patient simulator," he said.

Allen also will add a new venture to his list; the Air Force is sending him to optometry school to become a certified Optometric Technician.

"Work, work, school, work … that's my life," Allen said.

His goal is to become a pediatrician. "I've always liked working with kids," he said.

Allen coached youth basketball, and he worked with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program while at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. "I enjoyed it, and I believe that helping kids would be a pretty natural thing to do," Allen said.

After completing his final year of nursing school, he will apply to medical school. "I'm taking the stepping stones to get where I want to go," Allen said.

Allen grew up in Chicago, where he was raised by his grandmother. He has two younger brothers, one elder brother and one elder sister. One of his younger brothers graduates from the Air Force Academy this year.

Allen joined the Air Force out of high school. He has been stationed in New Mexico, Korea and deployed to Balad, Iraq… twice.

Those experiences give him motivation to see through his busy schedule and keep his eye on the prize – completing medical school. "If I can survive the streets of Chicago and the sands of Iraq, I can survive anything," Allen said. "This is something I remind myself of often."

When he does find some free time, he enjoys doing mixed martial arts, a hobby he picked up from a Brazilian Jujitsu class in the military four years ago. To add some fun into his routine, he enjoys dancing and hanging out with friends.

Allen enjoys the interaction with people at NASA Langley. Although he has arrest authority, is certified to use a 40-caliber pistol and has completed the Federal Police Academy as requirements for his job here, his chief interaction with employees arriving on center is a smile.

Allen has a lot to look back on, but more important, a lot to look forward to. And in the meantime, he'll help to keep NASA Langley a secure and safe place to work.