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Former Astronaut Mike Foreman Encourages Students to Pursue STEM

A former NASA astronaut came to Arizona Western College in Yuma recently to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM. The presentation revealed how tough a career in the sciences can be. Maya Springhawk Robnett of the Arizona Science Desk reports…

Former astronaut and naval pilot Mike Foreman met with students from middle school to college age. He explained that his childhood dream to become an astronaut took longer than anticipated; he applied to be a test pilot eight times before being chosen and it took just as many applications to NASA before he was accepted into the Astronaut Candidate Program at the age of forty-one.

“I just tell it like it happened,” Foreman says, “and let them hopefully be inspired that—hey, here’s a guy that really wanted to do something and kept trying, maybe I should keep trying.”

David Zaragoza, a thirteen-year-old Castle Dome Middle School student, says he was inspired enough to rethink his career choices.  “I’ve been wanting to do computers for a while now, maybe start my own company.  But now,” Zaragoza says, “after I came to this presentation, I’m also considering maybe—maybe, just maybe…applying to become an astronaut.”

Foreman’s visit to the college was paid for by a grant from the National Science Foundation as part of the Rural Community College Initiative. The goal of the initiative is to encourage more students to enter into STEM—or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics—programs.

In 2009, Foreman served as a crewmember for the STS-129 mission.  He was also involved in a NASA mission to deliver the Japanese Experiment Module and the Canadian Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulate to the International Space Station.