Nicole Stott, Astronaut and AFA Parent, speaks of her experience in space and how we must respect our planet and each other

The Admiral Farragut Academy International Dual Diploma program gives students in other countries the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion from Admiral Farragut Academy although they are unable to attend classes in Florida. Having launched the program in 2014, June 2018 was their largest graduating class with a total of 47 students; most of whom will be matriculating this fall to New York University, Virginia Tech, and Rutgers to name a few. This year, we were very fortunate to have Farragut parent and NASA astronaut, Nicole Stott prepare a speech for the graduates in China. Her speech was recorded on video and played at the graduation ceremony which was attended by over 100 guests, including Board Chair, Christian Wagner ‘82N; Vice President, Brian Chatterley; and China Director, Justin Poupart. Nicole will be the guest speaker for the Alumni Homecoming dinner on October 27th.

Watch Stott’s speech:

Excerpt of speech:

Looking out on our Earth from The International Space Station, I was in awe, I was humbled – it was a life changing, spiritual, and overwhelming impressive experience.

It’s very surreal to be in space, floating in front of the window of your spaceship, and looking down on our planet.  

Orbiting the Earth at 5 miles a second, it’s wonderful to see the sun rising and setting 16 times a day, to see the Earth spinning below me; to witness the reality of our home as a planet, and to recognize the undeniable interconnectivity of everyone and everything that inhabits our Spaceship Earth.

At the same time, I was humbled by experiencing the view of our small, beautifully colorful and glowing planet in the endless blackness of space that surrounds us.  Our Earth might feel big when you stand here on it, but from the vantage point of space it can seem so tiny amongst the grander scheme of the universe. The reality though is that tiny does not mean insignificant.

This feeling of humility and awe, inspires wonder and total respect, and it led to the most important lesson I learned from looking down on our little blue planet.  From up in space, you are witness to our undeniable reality.

That reality can be summed up by 3 simple, yet profound things — we live on a planet, we are all Earthlings, and the only border that matters is the thin blue line of our atmosphere that blankets us all.  We all need to acknowledge and accept responsibility for this reality that we all share in common.

This is the message I wish to bring to all of the students of Admiral Farragut Academy –.  We must respect each other, our planet, and all of the plants and animals we share it with.

This year, 2018, marks 18 years of continuous human presence in space — for as long as you all have been alive; crews, composed of astronauts from 16 partner countries have been cooperating, living, and working peacefully and successfully together in space.  And not just in space . . . but thousands of people from the different space programs around the world have labored purposefully together right here on Earth in support of the common space station mission and the crews orbiting above.  The space station is by far the most complex international partnership that has ever been undertaken by humans in pursuit of a common goal of greater good. And all of that work together in space has been for the benefit of all of us here on Earth.  

In space we have managed to build a mechanical environment that mimics what our own “Spaceship Earth” does for us naturally.  More importantly, we have demonstrated how planetary partnerships and long-term thinking can result in mutually beneficial success for all involved.

We know that we have challenges ahead of us that will determine the future of humanity.  Examples like the successful and beautiful planetary partnership we have with the International Space Station, and the acceptance that we’re all in this together – show us that if we all work together, we can overcome any challenge.

Humanity needs leaders.  

We look to you, Farragut students and graduates, to be those LEADERS!   We want to see Farragut graduates as government leaders, industry leaders, commercial leaders, society’s leaders – as the leaders of humanity in every area of our world.

Farragut graduates should be aiming to not just succeed, but they should be aiming to succeed and lead others to success.

The world needs leaders, not just to lead us into Space, the Moon and maybe even Mars, but to lead us here on Earth to a better tomorrow for all.

Your next steps are planned.  You have university to attend, degrees to earn, and more homework to do and life lessons to learn for the next 4,6 or even 10 years… but after that?   What’s your goal? What’s your plan? What problems are you looking to solve?

Just think.. If every graduate set out to solve just ONE problem…  Imagine the future that would put in place for us all — the problems of today would be replaced by ones that are not focused on just our survival, but on how we all thrive together both on and off our planet.

I ask you to leave here today as Earthlings – as a member of the crew of Spaceship Earth.

“What Kind of World do YOU Want?”  History starts now with You — Class of 2018.  Congratulations!