Archive for November 13th, 2012

John Herrington, the first Native American to travel to space, tells the audience to never give up and always follow their dreams during a lecture Wednesday evening in the CUB. (Photo by Ed Deocampo/The Daily Evergreen)


The first Native man to enter space was on another mission last week, hoping to students at Washington State University to reach for the stars.

The Daily Evergreen’s Kelly Montgomery covered John Herrington (Chicksaw Nation) speech at WSU.

    In 2002, (Herrington) participated in the 16th shuttle mission to the International Space Station, where he spent 13 days, 18 hours and 47 minutes aboard the space shuttle Endeavour. He was only allowed to bring a few items into space. He brought an eagle feather.

    “After that week goes away, you miss that feeling that you were there, and you want to go back,” Herrington said. “There are certain things about it that will never, ever go away.”

    The WSU Cougar Leadership Program in association with ASWSU Ku-Ah-Mah, the Native American student association, hosted the event in the CUB Senior Ballroom as part of Native American Heritage Month.

Herrington was the first in his family to attended college. The first year was rough.

    Herrington ended up flunking out of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs after his first semester.

    “You change a lot in your first year of college,” he said.

    Following a break from school, Herrington graduated from the University of Colorado with a degree in applied mathematics. He would soon discover his love for flying.

    After 22 years as a military pilot, Herrington was selected for NASA in 1996.

    “I would’ve loved to do it for longer,” he said.

    Herrington was diagnosed with osteoporosis, and then made a very hard decision to leave NASA, he said. His biggest accomplishment since then was in 2008 when he decided to bike across the country to promote student interest in the sciences. It took three months and nearly 42,000 miles.

    Shae Gamble, ASWSU Ku-Ah-Mah co-chair, coordinated with the Cougar Leadership Program to promote the event.

    “I’m so thrilled we had this opportunity,” Gamble said. “He’s Native and a powerful, inspirational person.”

    Gamble said the Native American community sometimes lacks positive role models.

    “This was a perfect opportunity to have someone to look up to that has done great things with their lives,” she said.

Jenna Cederberg