Western Washington UniversityCommunications and Marketing
DATE: October 19, 2012 6:33:15 PM PDT
Former NASA Astronaut John Herrington to Speak at WWU on Oct. 23
Herrington to help launch new student club, participate in Compass 2 Campus Tour Day

Contact: Joan Ullin, assistant director of WWU Student Outreach Services, (360) 650-4665

BELLINGHAM – Former NASA astronaut John Herrington, the first Native American to fly in space and perform a spacewalk, will speak from 4 to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23, in Fraser Hall Room 4 at Western Washington University.

Herrington’s free public talk is part of a launch for a new student club – the Western campus chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Herrington, a strong advocate on the need to broaden opportunities in the sciences, often asks audiences: “What is your measure of success?”

Western’s Associated Students and the national SACNAS organization have approved the new student club.

“Members of this club, while also representing Western, will help reach out to Hispanic/Chicano, Native American and other historically underrepresented students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and technology) fields,” said SACNAS Chapter-WWU president Jacob Borg. “Club members will feel the support and sense of community that comes from being among other students with similar interests. The goal is to instill the belief and confidence among our members that they can succeed in science. “

Herrington also will present two sessions to fifth graders interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics during the Compass 2 Campus Tour Day Oct. 23. And he will attend a dinner with students from the All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP Scholars) program; Native American Student Union, MECha Club, Latino Student Union and other officials from campus.

Herrington, an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1996.  He flew to the International Space Station in 2002 aboard the shuttle Endeavour.  The historic mission included three spacewalks, delivery of the Expedition-Six crew, and the transfer of cargo from the shuttle to the station. 

Currently, as chairman of the board for the American Indian Institute for Innovation (AIII) in Rapid City, S. D., a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving the opportunities for Native American students in STEM education, Herrington works with a variety of organizations.  In 2008, he rode a bicycle from Cape Flattery, Wash., to Cape Canaveral, Fla. to call attention to the importance of education in STEM-related fields.

Herrington received a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs in 1983 and a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1995.  He had a distinguished, decorated career in the U.S. Navy, rising to the rank of commander and logging more than 3,800 flight hours in over 30 different types of aircraft. In 2005, he retired from the Navy and left NASA to pursue a career in the commercial space industry.  The National Geographic Channel aired “Inside Hubble’s Final Mission” in May 2009 with Herrington as host.  He has received many civic and community awards.

Several organizations on campus helped to support Herrington’s visit. They include:  Student Outreach Services, All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (AMP Scholars) program; AS Cold Beverage Contract, College of Sciences and Technology, Graduate School, Woodring College of Education, Huxley College of the Environment and the Diversity Fund.

Herrington. Photo courtesy of NASA

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