President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, Ph.D., has announced that NASA Astronaut, Richard Mastracchio will deliver the 2016 Commencement Address at the Palace Theater on Thursday, May 26.
President De Filippis expressed the pride of the College in featuring the Astronaut who is a native of Waterbury,
“Our beautiful city is home to so much talent and generosity. We are honored to have such an important role model celebrate with our students this significant milestone.”
Dean of Student Services, Sarah Gager confirmed that the College had reached out to NASA to invite the astronaut because he is a “hometown hero” who is a great example of leadership and possibility.
Mastracchio graduated from Crosby High School in 1978 and received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science from the University of Connecticut. He later earned a Master of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Science Degree in Physical Science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
In 1990, he joined NASA as an engineer in the Flight Crew Operations Directorate. In April 1996, Mastracchio was selected as an Astronaut Candidate and started training in August 1996. A veteran of four spaceflights, Mastracchio flew as a Mission Specialist on STS-106 aboard space shuttle Atlantis, STS-118 on Endeavor, and STS-131 on Discovery. He later launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket and served as an Expedition 38/39 Flight Engineer aboard the International Space Station (ISS). As of 2014, Mastracchio has logged 228 days in space, including nine spacewalks totaling 53 hours.
Mastracchio currently supports NASA’s Exploration Branch, helping guide development of spacecraft that will one day carry humans on a journey to Mars.
The Naugatuck Valley Community College Commencement Ceremony is held annually at the Palace Theater; tickets are by invitation only and reserved for graduates and their families.
Photos courtesy NASA