Mar 262003
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

NASA astronaut and Deputy Director of Flight Crew Operations

Ellen Ochoa told the CSU community and guests that the most

rewarding part of her job is the people she works with.

Ochoa has been on four space flights during her time as an


CSU’s Women and Minorities in Engineering Program brought Ochoa,

the first-ever Latina astronaut, to campus in honor of Women’s

History Month and Cesar Chavez Week. She spoke during the weekly

Women at Noon event and in the Lory Student Center Main Ballroom

later in the evening.

“I’m so lucky,” Ochoa said. “It’s been an incredibly rewarding

13 years.”

Ochoa is the recipient of many NASA awards, including the

Outstanding Leadership Medal, Exceptional Service Medal, two Space

Act Tech Brief Awards and four Space Flight Medals. She has also

been recognized in the community with the Women in Aerospace

Outstanding Achievement Award, the Hispanic Engineer Albert Baez

Award for Outstanding Technical Contribution to Humanity and the

Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award.

“We always try to do a presentation on technology for Women’s

History Month,” said Benita Phillips, director of WMEP. “We want to

show the impact women have had in the field of engineering and


Ochoa has logged more than 978 hours in space. She served as a

mission specialist, payload commander, flight engineer and mission

flight specialist.

“The most rewarding part of my job is the chance to work closely

with very talented people,” Ochoa said. “It’s also been a rewarding

part of my job to be able to go around and speak with


Students were also very excited to be able to speak with


Emmanuella McCoole is studying to get her master’s in electrical

engineering. She is planning on turning in an application to NASA

this summer in hopes of becoming an astronaut.

“It’s a good inspiration for anybody being able to see a person

that’s been up there,” McCoole said. “I think it’s a great


Liz Gaylor, 25, and Justin Wilson, 23, came all the way from

Greeley to hear Ochoa speak. They are both attending the flight

school at Aims Community College.

“It’s just cool to have a real astronaut here,” Wilson said.

Gaylor has dreams of being an astronaut and said Ochoa is an

inspiration to her.

Many students were also curious to hear the latest news about


“I was interested to hear what’s going to happen to NASA,” said

Kathy Fosha, a junior mechanical engineering student.

Ochoa spoke fondly of the Space Shuttle Columbia, the shuttle

that burned up during reentry on Feb. 1, crewmembers and told what

she knew about NASA’s ongoing investigation.

“What we have to do now is to try to understand what led to that

and understand what we can do to prevent something like that from

happening in the future,” Ochoa said. “I know I can best honor

their lives by helping to continue NASA’s mission.”

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