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
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
“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.”