As if the dual NCAA Basketball titles were't already cool enough, University of Connecticut alumnus and U.S. Astronaut Mastracchio delivered the commencement speech to this year's School of Engineering graduates on Saturday, while orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station.
Mastracchio, who graduated from the school in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science said:
"I could not be there with you on this big day, but being in space I was trying to figure out how to make this speech different than all the other commencement addresses that are given each year. And then I realized – I'm in a weightless environment. So maybe, I should give the speech in a different orientation."
He shared that he decided to submit his application to become an Astronaut in 1986, after the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger - which led to him getting an engineering job at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. He continued to submit applications annually for the next nine years, during which he earned a second Master's Degree and a pilot's license. He didn't secure a job as an Astronaut until his third interview, in 1996.
His NASA bio says between 1993 and 1996, he worked from Mission Control as a Flight Controller. As an Astronaut, he flew on the Space Shuttle three times as Mission Specialist, and tallied 38 hours and 30 minutes on spacewalks.
In spite of the somewhat dry tone of the speech, Mastracchio's message centered perseverance and determination - a great reminder for those graduating and getting out into the uncertain job market. In space since November 6th, he is scheduled complete Expedition 38 on Tuesday, landing in Kazakhstan.