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Eileen Collins to Speak at Bunker Hill Community College Commencement

Former Shuttle Pilot Graduated From A Community College Before Being Selected To The Astronaut Corps

Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Eileen M. Collins, the first female commander of a NASA space shuttle mission, will speak at Bunker Hill Community College's 38th Commencement exercises on June 2, 2012. The College expects to graduate its largest class to date.

Collins, a community college graduate and the daughter of immigrants, was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 1990. Five years later, she made history as the first female shuttle pilot and, a brief four years after that, in 1999, Collins became the first woman to command the space shuttle. Her missions as pilot included the first rendezvous with the Russian space shuttle Mir and, as commander, the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, a telescope designed to conduct comprehensive studies of the universe. In 2005, she became the first astronaut to fly the space shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver, an action vital to ensuring the safety of the craft.

Collins earned an associate degree in mathematics and science at Corning Community College in New York, attended Syracuse University for her Bachelor's degree, and received master's degrees from Stanford and Webster universities. Her numerous medals, awards and honors include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Grenada, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the French Legion of Honor. She has been recognized by Encyclopedia Britannica as one of the top 300 women in history. Collins retired from NASA in 2006 and has since covered shuttle launches and landings for CNN.

Bunker Hill Community College is the largest community college in Massachusetts.

FMI: www.bhcc.mass.edu

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