SAN LOUIS OBISPO – As the nation struggles through a tumultuous year marked by racial conflict, violence and intense political division, Cal Poly astronaut Victor Glover reached out to black students from outer space and convinced them of a better future on Earth.
When you turn on the news, unfortunately you see a lot of things happening in our society right now that you don’t feel good about, said Glover, who was affected by the riots on the 6th. January on U.S. Capitol Hill from the International Space Station learned the location of the graduate engineer on day 58 of a six-month mission. But every time I start thinking about these things, I think about all of you…. When you look up and you see us seniors, you often see young people making these positive changes and making an impact on your community. So I encourage you to keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re making the world a better place.
The NASA astronaut, who went into space two months ago, spoke with students from the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) at Cal Poly and others in a live interview on the 13th. January on the space station, in orbit 250 miles above the Earth.
I’ve been waiting all day for this! It glowed – sometimes talking backwards – as it floated in a microgravity environment.
The question and answer game, titled Succeed While Black in STEM, was organized by the NSBE Cal Poly, which has about 30 members. Glover was president of the club when he was a student in the 1990s.
Current President Amman Asfaw, who played a key role in organizing the event with Glover and NASA, said the event represents an important milestone.
This is undoubtedly the time of year for the NSBE, of course, the Asfo said later.
Several current and former NSBE members then spoke about the inspiration they received from meeting Glover, who overcame many obstacles as a black man in the STEM field. Some noted that Glover’s success is a source of hope and inspiration.
One of the goals of the NSBE is to bring people to where Victor is, says Asfo, a Thousand Oaks student pursuing a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Speaking about life on the space station, Glover said it’s easy to lose things because of the microgravity. Exercising by lifting weights helps him feel normal, and he pauses in his work by reading the Bible and the Book of Sapiens : A brief history of humanity. But what he looks forward to most is talking to his family in weekly video conferences, where they sometimes play charades.
Charades in microgravity are pretty impressive, he says.
Glover was one of 18 astronauts recently named to the Artemis team, which will return to the moon at the end of this decade. But the 44-year-old former Navy test pilot says he’s already accomplished more than he thought.
I don’t have any career goals anymore. My professional goals, he says, are for you to point the camera, for me to help you succeed.
When asked how he deals with the challenge of being an underrepresented group as a student at Cal Poly, Glover (General Engineering, 1999) replied that students face challenges because they are still underrepresented in their careers.
And that takes strength, he said. Just like when you go to the gym, you put a weight on a bar, and what does it do? He’s exercising the muscles. And the source of this muscle growth is tension. And that makes you physically stronger. It also makes you stronger emotionally and mentally.
He also advised students to help others, as he did as a student when he mentored migrant children in Santa Maria.
Above all, he advised them to remain confident.
The biggest problems you’re going to have are going to come from within, he said. Sometimes you have to do what the football and basketball coaches say when they see you skating on the field, court or mat. Sometimes you just have to keep your feet moving.
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We’ll get through this together, Atascadero…