Astronaut Mark Kelly calls on graduates to serve at Kean University commencement event

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Photo Courtesy of Kean University
Kean University President Dawood Farahi, right, gives commencement speaker Capt. Mark Kelly the Kean Medal at the 20th Nathan Weiss Graduate College commencement, held at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on May 17.

UNION, NJ — Astronaut Mark Kelly, a West Orange native, told the Kean University Nathan Weiss Graduate College Class of 2016 to “go serve your community in whatever way you can.” Capt. Kelly gave the commencement address at the 20th Nathan Weiss Graduate College commencement on May 17.

With bagpipers leading the procession, the faculty, administrators, graduates and their families filled the majestic New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark where the evening ceremony was held. The college conferred 690 advanced degrees to graduates who hailed from 17 countries, including the United States.

Kelly, who was part of four missions to space and commanded both the Space Shuttle Discovery and Space Shuttle Endeavour, recalled his academic struggles in school and his less than stellar performance as a young Navy pilot, telling the graduates to persevere in their professional pursuits, “because how good you are at the beginning of anything you try is not a good indicator of how good you can become. You can start out as a lousy pilot and end up commanding a rocket ship into space.”

As they go through life, Kelly told the graduates to find their own path despite pressure from family or friends. “I am here to tell you it’s OK if you don’t take their advice,” he said.