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NASA Astronaut Dr. James F. Reilly II
Alumnus to Speak on Overcoming Adversity to 1,400 Graduates;
RICHARDSON, Texas (April 24, 2003) - NASA astronaut Dr. James F. Reilly II will address more than 1,400 graduating students at spring commencement ceremonies May 10 at his alma mater, The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). The topic of Reilly's speech will be overcoming adversity.
"I plan to talk about several things, including the plight of immigrants, how foreign students persevere in a strange land and, of course, my friends on STS-107 and what they would want us to do to get back on our feet and go back to flying in space," Reilly said, referring to the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia, which was lost upon re-entry into the earth's atmosphere on Feb. 1.
"It is a high honor to be asked to give the commencement address at UTD," Reilly said. "I'm looking forward to returning home."
Reilly will speak at all three of the university's commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 10 - at 9 a.m. for the schools of Arts and Humanities, General Studies, Behavioral and Brain Sciences and Social Sciences, at 11:30 a.m. for the schools of Engineering and Computer Science and Natural Sciences and Mathematics and at 2 p.m. for the School of Management.
In addition to Reilly, a graduating student will speak at each ceremony - a practice that has become a tradition at UTD.
All three ceremonies will be held in the UTD Activities Center, located at University Parkway and Drive A on the university's campus in Richardson. In addition, for the first time, UTD's commencement ceremonies will be "Webcast" live over the Internet. Persons interested in watching the ceremonies as they occur, or after they take place, may do so by visiting the university's Office of Records and Registration graduation home page, http://www.utdallas.edu/student/records/graduation/index.html, on the day of the events or after and clicking on the link to the Webcast.
University officials said they expect to confer 1,442 degrees that day - 802 undergraduate degrees, 604 master's degrees and 36 Ph.D. degrees. The newest group of graduates is expected to bring the total number of degrees conferred by UTD to more than 46,000 in the university's 34-year history.
Reilly received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geosciences from UTD before becoming an astronaut. He has flown on two space missions - the first in 1998 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which docked with the Russian Mir space station, and the second in 2001 on the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which visited the International Space Station.
Reilly has logged more than 517 hours in space, including three space walks totaling 16 and one-half hours. He was assigned to fly again on shuttle mission STS-117, which had been scheduled for flight in the fall of 2003 before NASA halted shuttle flights in the wake of the Columbia tragedy.
In 2002, Reilly was presented with UTD's first Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his space exploration achievements.
Reilly is a graduate of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas and, although he was born in Idaho, considers Mesquite, Texas, to be his hometown.
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