Saint Ignatius’ best and brightest gather for astronaut’s tale


On Monday September 26, 2016 some of Saint Ignatius High School’s best and brightest students from the junior and senior classes gathered for a presentation during fourth period entitled “Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secret’s of the Universe” given by astronaut Mike Massimino. The presentation was brought to Saint Ignatius by Columbia University and based on Mike Massimino’s book about his adventures in both becoming an astronaut and exploring space.

Although most students went in excited because they didn’t have to attend fourth period, the presentation was both captivating and informative. The presentation did not merely focus on how to become an astronaut nor what kind of training is required of an astronaut, but rather it focused on Massimino’s perseverance and willingness to obtain a childhood dream. Massimino began the speech by showing the students a picture of him at a young age, dressed as an astronaut holding a stuffed snoopy doll. Massimino then explained that his dreams of going to space were born at a young age, when Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon when he was a child.

Like most childhood dreams however, Massimino’s dream of going to space faltered a little bit through high school, but did, however, influence his college decision. Massimino told students that he knew he wanted to study both math and engineering, and that Columbia University, being the prestigious University it was, was his top choice to study math and engineering. However, Massimino also added that he went to Columbia because, “The people who went to Columbia didn’t just go to study one thing, they went there to study a lot of things”.

This quote brought up Massimino’s second main point of the talk which was to explain to a group of juniors and seniors in high school that the college you attend becomes a very important part of who you are. Although, Massimino only touched on this point briefly, he would later return to it and explain its significance.

Massimino then went on to describe the process of how he became an astronaut. After four years at Columbia University he went the Massachusetts Institute of technology for grad school, and at this time his childhood dream of going to space resurfaced, and he seriously contemplated applying to be an astronaut at NASA. Although Massimino went into greater detail, the gist of his story was that after being denied three times by NASA, coming closer to being accepted each time, he was finally accepted by NASA and entered the Space program to be trained as an astronaut.

After his training was done, Massimino would go to space two times, both trips to perform maintenance on the hubble telescope. Massimino recounted his first blast off into space, and described his fear that something had gone terribly wrong, while two experienced astronauts began to high five each other and then began to make fun of him for being so nervous. Massimino then jokingly told students that his real motivation for going to space a second time, was to see the facial expression of the newbee who would think something had gone terribly wrong. Massimino continued highlighting the moments of his missions to space such as a video of he and his fellow astronauts eating food, or a video of him ripping a handle off a door because he striped a screw in space.

However, at the end of speech Massimino returned to a serious note and showed everyone the same picture of him as a kid, with a dream of going to space. This moment truly represented the necessity for perseverance in accomplishing our goals. He then showed another picture of him in space wearing a Columbia sweatshirt and explained that in space he was only allowed to bring one shirt of his own, and brought his alma mater’s shirt. He told students the significance of his college and how it shaped the person he was. This subtle advice, more applicable for seniors, demonstrated the importance of school and the importance of the college students select as it truly molds that student into their future self.