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Monday, December 11, 2017

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With Kelly, UH makes stellar choice for speaker


When I heard that retired astronaut Scott Kelly had been selected to give the commencement speech, I was ecstatic. I think this makes up for when the University invited Matthew McConaughey.

I don’t think that the acclaimed actor was a poor choice. They simply paid him way too much.

Though there were plenty of wise thoughts and moving personal stories in McConaughey’s speech, there wasn’t very much unique about it. He only talked about personal experiences as an actor a few times. If I had gone around asking some of my friends’ grandparents for an important piece of advice, I probably would have heard similar things to what the bulk of his speech consisted of.

The University’s decision to invite Kelly to speak is fantastic in more ways than one. The astronaut’s link with NASA makes him a close friend of Houston and the city’s citizens. Kelly can share experiences from his five trips outside the planet; now that’s a unique point of view.

Remarkable items in Kelly’s long list of achievements include commanding two flights, the STS-118 mission in 2007 and ISS Expedition 26 in 2010, and holding the record for most days in space as an American astronaut.

One of the many notable experiments for NASA Kelly has participated was the twins study in which his vitals were compared to his twin brother (also an astronaut) on the ground. Kelly served as a benchmark for NASA to see how prolonged time in space affects humans — a precursor for manned missions to the Red Planet.

Kelly embodies Houston, and at $35,000 the University got a pretty nice deal.

But the best part? UH won’t have to go through a celebrity booking agency and drop six figures in order for him to deliver a speech.

Assistant opinion editor Thomas Dwyer is a broadcast journalism freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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  • Clint Kirchhoff

    McConaughey was worth millions in marketing value, so it paid for itself many time over. But as an engineer, I find Scott Kelly a more inspirational figure and I’m glad to have him speaking at my graduation.

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