Students receive inspiring message from astronaut
Astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, commander of the Space Shuttle Endeavor's final mission, spoke to students, faculty and staff April 3 at the San Jacinto College South Campus for a special lecture event.
Kelly touched on his experiences from his total of 50 days in space. The retired U.S. Navy captain and aviator also recounted his combat missions during the Gulf War before speaking about the day his wife, former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and their journey together during her recovery.
"As Gabby entered Congress in 2007, I thought that I had the risky job," said Kelly. "I'd flown two flights into space and 39 combat missions by that point, but she was the one that would nearly lose her life serving her country."
He also described the challenges that came with his new role as her caregiver and how his background in the Navy and at NASA prepared him for it.
"The power of the human spirit is an incredible thing, watching the woman that I love fight so hard to survive, then fight so hard to come back. She reminds me every day to deny the acceptance of failure," he said.
Although his career and professional successes have been impressive, Kelly pointed out to the students that his beginnings didn't offer a bright future. Prior to high school, his grades were not astronaut level, but his focus in high school changed things for the better. He encouraged the students to strive to reach their goals despite anyone else's pace.
"I'm a strong believer that how good you are at the beginning of anything you try is not a good indicator of how good you can become. I'm a prime example of somebody that was able to overcome a lack of aptitude with practice, persistence and the drive to never ever give up," he said.
He also delivered a message from Giffords, who now suffers from aphasia due to her head injuries from the shooting. The message was: "Be patient. Be courageous. Be strong. Be your best."
"I am just amazed at how strong they both have been through everything," said honors student Leslie Eaton. "It's very touching that he shared their story with all of us. It's also a little comforting to know that he wasn't always the best at everything when he first started his career. It lets students know that if you keep trying, you'll get there. I'm very proud of the caliber of speakers San Jacinto College is able to present to its students; it shows that we're on a level well beyond the average community college."