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Galactic Journey at Berea College and Beyond

Dr. Story Musgrave took students on a journey to the vast reaches of space during convocation on September 13, 2007.

Former astronaut Story Musgrave stayed behind after convocation to sign autographs for students.

Shiblee Ratan, a Senior physics major, introduced Dr. Story Musgrave, M.D., lead mechanic and space walker who spent a total of 1,282 hours in space during his thirty year career with NASA. While Dr. Musgrave has a total of seven graduate degrees, he possessed a down to earth demeanor when speaking about the seventeen years he spent helping to design and maintain the Hubble Telescope.

Although his story took students all the way to the far reaches of space, its origins began on a dairy farm in the 1930s. Dr. Musgrave admits,"Kids always ask me, ‘of course you always wanted to be an astronaut,’ but I have to remind them in the 1930s there were none." Walking to the edge of the stage, Dr. Musgrave explained to the full house in Phelps Stokes Auditorium that the edge is where life often happens.

This was true of the agricultural childhood that offered Dr. Musgrave unconventional opportunities such as assisting the farm equipment that bind hay bales. Musgrave credits his unique childhood as an influential component in his life. He gave students one of many pieces of advice, "How you view the past depends upon your hope for the future. You know where I am today? I'm at Berea college…that's where I am today. If I had not tied those little knots at the age of five, I'd not be at Berea College today. I would have a different life, so you look at the past and say, wow."

Looking at Dr. Musgrave's past and saying, "wow" was not a difficult feat as he humbly described the period he spent serving as an airplane mechanic in the Korean War as well as his time as a trauma surgeon. Dr. Musgrave was able to interweave these experiences with one another in relation to his career with NASA when revealed,"You fix the farm equipment, you fix the airplanes, and you fix the people and that's why they toss you into space to fix that machine up there."

Dr. Musgrave took the audience 'up there' with the aide of a motivational slideshow presentation with images of his time working on the Hubble Telescope. Dr. Musgrave's inspirational words, along with the integration of music took the audience 6,000 miles from their seats and into the heavens. Transitioning from one celestial slide to the another, the audience was silent in anticipation except for the occasional, 'oooh and ahhh'. Dr. Musgrave told the audience, "If you take any word out of this auditorium today it's, passion. Passion is the energy and the motor, it's the thing that pushes you forward and it raises you to this level of performance of perfection." Bringing the audience back to the auditorium, Dr. Musgrave revealed that the adventure is not over yet.

He stressed the importance of universal sustainability as he stated, "Mother Earth is an incredible jewel floating in an ocean of space; it's the only one we got or will ever have. It's a spaceship, it's a lifeboat. First of all, we gotta get along with the other members of our own species. Over the millennia and over history we have not been good at that. It's the number one priority humans got: to get along with themselves and to get along in balance with the other creatures, to share the spaceship and a sustainable behavior with them and with Mother Earth."

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