Following "free advice" about goal setting and environmental care Saturday, astronaut Mary L. Cleave couldn't resist offering a wave - sporting arena style - to Utah State University's class of 1998.
"I want to have a little fun," Cleave told a record 4,197 graduates, their guests and university faculty, who gleefully threw up their arms in the chain-reaction "wave" she requested.The wave punctuated a keynote address by Cleave, among the first women to enter space flight in 1985. The Utah State alumna also received an honorary doctorate of engineering science at the university's 105th commencement.
Similar honors went to: Wm. James Mortimer, Deseret News publisher, who received an honorary doctor of humanities; John Osguthorpe, humanitarian and retired international development specialist, doctor of agriculture; Donald L. Staheli, retired CEO of Continental Grain, doctor of agribusiness; Adele C. Young, retired teacher and philanthropist, doctor of education; and Dale W. Young, retired agricultural researcher, doctor of agricultural science.
Faculty awards went to: Kenneth W. Brewer, English, outstanding graduate mentor; Carol J. Strong, education, Eldon J. Gardner Teaching Award; Keith A. Mott, biology, D. Wynne Thorne Research Award; Georgia C. Lauritzen, nutrition specialist, E.G. Peterson Extension Award for excellence in distance education.
Graduates, including 707 receiving master's degrees and 91 receiving doctorates, were reminded of the significance of their time in college.
"I have a great appreciation for what learning is about," USU President George H. Emert said, acknowledging employment is a primary reason to seek a college degree. "But as a university we must do more than that - we must prepare our students for better lives," instill an appreciation of differences and give students the tools to enrich society.
Such notions resonated in Cleave's address.
"As Aggies, we are trained to help civilization benefit from our technological advances," said the capsule communicator aboard five shuttle missions who deployed the Magellan Venus planetary probe, the first such craft to be deployed from a space shuttle.
"It is very important to have goals, but be careful not to let them limit your vision," she said. "Stay flexible and keep looking for those opportunities. It makes life a lot more fun."
Hers is the voice of experience. Cleave was a fan of flying, taking to planes at age 14 and solo piloting at 16. She aspired to aviation, but piloting never occurred to her. Rather, she applied to become an airline stewardess in 1969 - the year of the first moonwalk. She was two inches too short.
Yet the timing could have been fate. Ten years later, she was accepted into astronaut training, a field dominated by men.
Space flight also led to new experiences for Cleave, project manager for NASA's Sea-Viewing Wide Field of View sensor program, which monitors global marine chlorophyll. Gazing at the Earth from space, humans' mark is obvious in deforestation and smoke from massive fires. Cities look like grey smudges.
"We are using resources such as trees, water, soil and clean air at a faster rate than they are being naturally replaced," she said. "Do we want a `gourmet' or `gourmand' existence on this planet?
"You will all help decide that."