Commencement Speaker Named

Commencement Speaker Named Click to Enlarge Photo: Saint John's University

(KNSI) - A NASA astronaut and Saint John's University alum is coming back to campus to deliver the school's commencement address and remind them to reach for the stars.

Mark Vande Hei will deliver the speech at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 12, in Saint John's Abbey and University Church.

The 1989 graduate will receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Vande Hei was recognized with the 2014 Saint John’s Alumni Achievement Award.

He was one of just nine candidates selected from a pool of 3,500 applicants for the 2009 NASA astronaut class.

Vande Hei served as flight engineer on the International Space Station from September 2017 through February 2018 (128 days) and completed four spacewalks during that time.

A NASA Downlink to SJU allowed students to watch and talk with Vande Hei during his time in space.

Vande Hei earned his physics degree from Saint John’s, he was commissioned through the ROTC where he became a colonel in the U.S. Army and has a master’s in applied physics from Stanford University.

His military service includes combat tours, numerous awards and a position as assistant professor of military science at the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.

Vande Hei has served and trained in many locations around the world.

Luke Olley, a graduating English major from Woodbury, will be the student commencement speaker, as selected by the Saint John's senior class.

The 2019 Saint John's graduation class includes 392 undergraduate men and 19 School of Theology and Seminary graduates.

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