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AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

NASA astronaut asks SEAS graduates to create their own legacy, recognize opportunity

NASA+astronaut+and+alumna+Serena+Au%C3%B1%C3%B3n-Chancellor+pressed+graduates+to+rethink+their+expectations+about+the+future.
NASA astronaut and alumna Serena Auñón-Chancellor pressed graduates to rethink their expectations about the future.
NASA astronaut and alumna Serena Auñón-Chancellor pressed graduates to rethink their expectations about the future.

Graduates of the School of Engineering and Applied Science celebrated commencement at the Smith Center Friday.

Students received degrees in six different disciplines of science and engineering, and more than 20 graduates received awards for outstanding achievement. The two-hour-long ceremony featured a keynote address from SEAS alumna and NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, who pressed graduates to rethink their expectations about the future.

Auñón-Chancellor said that when she graduated from GW more than 20 years ago, she did fully grasp that she was in charge of her own legacy. She said students should recognize that they can set their own legacies through the work they do after graduation.

“I think legacy is a big deal,” she said. “You could be the first person to step foot on Mars. Why not think that big? Someone has to, and it might as well be you.”

Auñón-Chancellor said she knew she wanted to work for NASA when she entered medical school but did not know how to reach her goal. But she said an opportunity opened up for her to join the organization and she accepted right away, encouraging graduates to do the same when opportunities arise.

“Part of this creative process is learning how to recognize opportunity, and I think some people believe that opportunity comes in this nice, neat little package and it’s presented to you with a big red bow,” Auñón-Chancellor said. “Opportunity is simple – sometimes it’s a phone call, it’s a conversation with someone that you might not have expected – opportunity could merely be an idea that you come up with that just feels right.”

Auñón-Chancellor stressed that graduates will encounter people in life who will try to tell them their goals are impossible, but that graduates should not let others limit them.

“There will always be people who love to tell you how difficult something will be, how impossible it is, how hard it will be, how the odds are not in your favor,” she said. “If I had a dollar for every time someone told me the odds of becoming an astronaut are not in your favor and never will be, I’d be a pretty rich person today.”

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