FLYING HIGH: ELLEN OCHOA NAMED TO U.S. ASTRONAUT HALL OF FAME

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By Miriam Raftery

Photo: NASA

March 18, 2017 (La Mesa) — I remember Ellen Ochoa from our student days at Parkway Junior High School.  She was brilliant, having already skipped two grades and still maintaining an “A” average. So, I’m not surprised at her stellar career, which included becoming the first Hispanic woman astronaut in space and now, induction into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.  Congratulations to a true local hero!

Ochoa is a graduate of Grossmont High School, earned a bachelor’s in physics degree from San Diego State University, as well as masters and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University. She participated in four space shuttle missions, including the first docking mission with the International Space Station.  Today, she is director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston. 

 “I’m honored to be recognized among generations of astronauts who were at the forefront of exploring our universe for the benefit of humankind,” Ochoa said, SDSU reports. “I hope to continue to inspire our nation's youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math so they, too, may reach for the stars.”

She has previously been recognized with NASA's highest award, the Distinguished Service Medal, and the Presidential Distinguished Rank Award for senior executives in the federal government. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics and chairs the Nomination Evaluation Committee for the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

Locally, she’s been inducted into the Grossmont High School Hall of Honor in 2010 and was named an SDSU Distinguished Alumna of the Year in 1995.