Astronaut Program Inspires Kids, Awards Scholarships To Two Texas A&M Students
Texas A&M University recently hosted the annual Astronaut Program in the Ford Hall of Champions at Kyle Field.
A panel discussion featured retired NASA astronauts Col. Rusty Schweickart and Col. Pamela Melroy, along with retired Russian Cosmonaut Col. Yuri Yusachev. In addition to the panel, two $10,000 ASF scholarships were presented to Texas A&M seniors Oscar Gonzalez (chemistry) and Camella Carlson (biomedical engineering).
The Astronaut Program is an annual partnership event of Public Partnership and Outreach with Texas A&M LAUNCH, the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation (ASF), and the Wreyford Family Foundation. Each fall, the ASF sponsors a former astronaut as a guest lecturer and presenter of ASF scholarships to Texas A&M seniors.
The program was free and open to the campus community and the general public. Precollege school groups were especially encouraged to assist in the program’s efforts to emphasize pursuit of academic studies and future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
This year’s Astronaut Program was the anchor program for the day-long “Community Day” of the XXXIII Planetary Congress, which was conducted in Houston by the Association of Space Explorers.
Texas A&M-Galveston also hosted astronauts for Community Day, and two astronauts visited students in McAllen and Brownsville.
Bryan’s Bonham Elementary School hosted former Astronaut Ed Lu, who said he was part of the Association of Space Explorers community, which has an annual meeting in Houston. The astronauts spread out on community day and visit as many local schools as possible, talking about various aspects of space and astronaut training.
Lu said he enjoys giving back to the surrounding communities and talking to children about his time at NASA. He spent 12 years at NASA, went on three missions, and logged more than 206 days in space.
“I love when kids tell me they want to be an astronaut,” Lu said. “I hope as many of them get to see the Earth from that point of view. It’s important for the kids to see that astronauts come in all different shapes, sizes and flavors.”