"I see future entrepreneurs, inventors, and astronauts," NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden told the GT-AE Class of 2015 during the Senior Banquet, April 1.
"I see CEOs, engineers, and perhaps-- this would give me endless delight -- a future administrator of NASA."
Bolden's speech before the graduating seniors Wednesday night seemed to give each of the hard-working undergraduates a little boost of energy, right when they need it most: the month before they finish their studies.
"I've been a fan of NASA and you since I was a little girl," one student said, barely concealing her nerves.
"I'm going to come work for you," said another, when he stepped forward to shake hands. "I can't wait."
"Remember to help someone who's coming after you," he said.In addition to lauding the School for its rigorous training of tomorrow's aerospace engineers, Bolden took a moment to remind the world-wearied seniors to help their younger classmates, whenever possible.
"Now that you are getting ready to graduate, think about helping out a freshman or sophomore who maybe is thinking they can't make it or it's too hard. You might make the difference."
Bolden told students he was dogged by those same doubts his first year at the U.S. Naval Academy. Every time he brought those doubts to his father -- hoping for a reprieve-- he was cleverly rebuffed.
"I told him I'd made a mistake, that I wanted to come home. He told me to hang in there another week," said the retired Marine Corps General and former astronaut.
"He said that for 52 weeks. And that's how I got through my freshman year."
As much as their graduation from Georgia Tech represents the fulfillment of a dream, Bolden urged the graduating seniors to think even bigger.
After Bolden's speech, Michael Fifield, the president of the Georgia Tech Chapter of Sigma Gamma Tau, the national honor society for aerospace engineers, announced that Dr. Lakshmi Sankar had been voted as the Outstanding Faculty of the Year, and that graduating senior, Shahezad Virani had been named Outstanding Student of the Year."When I was in school, it never occurred to me that I could someday be a pilot and especially not an astronaut...I definitely did not think I'd someday be here speaking to you as the head of NASA. So as much as possible, I like to encourage students to look at the skies and beyond when they think about their future career."
Of Sankar he said "his door is always open to students in need."
Of Virani, he quipped "We think he lives in the Loewy Library."
See photos from the entire event now