Rick Mastracchio Receives Honorary UConn Degree From Space

May 12, 2014

Commencement season is underway, and graduates of Quinnipiac University, Western Connecticut State University, and UConn were among those to receive their diplomas this weekend. Four hundred graduates of the School of Engineering at the University of Connecticut had the chance to hear a commencement speech delivered from a unique perspective -- from space.

Connecticut native Rick Mastracchio received an honorary degree from UConn. He spoke, 260 miles above Earth, while briefly, during the speech, floating upside down.  "Hi," said. "I’m NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, University of Connecticut graduate. I’m currently orbiting 260 miles above Earth on board the International Space Station."

Once upright, Mastracchio talked about the lessons he’s learned from his journey to become an astronaut. "You achieve big things not with one big step," he said, "but with many small steps. You didn’t complete college in one day. It took working hard almost daily for four or five years. Other big goals and accomplishments will probably take a similar level of work and effort. I’ve come to realize that difference between the people that get selected to be an astronaut -- and those who achieve their goals, and those that don’t -- is the ability to work towards their goals on a day-to-day basis."  

Mastracchio’s talk was broadcast to about 5,000 graduates, families and friends at Gampel Pavillion.  He ended his talk by donning a UConn baseball cap and signing off..upside down.