First Native American astronaut in space to speak at WWU

Former NASA astronaut John Herrington, the first Native American to fly in space and perform a spacewalk, will speak from 4 p.m. 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 WWU chapter of the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.

“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 Jacob Borg, president of the club’s WWU chapter, in a press release. “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 on Oct. 23. He will also attend a dinner with students from the All Nations Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program, the 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 in Rapid City, S. D.—a nonprofit 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.

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