Former astronaut Danny Olivas speaks at graduate student orientation


Gaby Velasquez

Grad students had the opportunity to speak one on one with UTEP alum Danny Olivas.

Andres Gallegos, Contributor

On Aug. 23, graduate students assembled at the UGLC for the Graduate Student Orientation and Training. Organized by the graduate school, there were conferences welcoming both new and returning graduate students, the resource fair, food trucks and a special guest from El Paso native and former astronaut Danny Olivas.

According to Associate Dean of the Graduate School Dr. Donna Ekal, more than 1,500 people attended the orientation. Dr. Ekal emphasized the importance of the orientation by saying that it helps to create a culture of graduate education at UTEP. This sentiment was supported by Danny Olivas in his speech, where he talked about the force of education and how it opened doors in his life.

Olivas has been to space twice. He was part of the Atlantis mission in 2007 and the Discovery mission in 2009.

Olivas talked about how even with a doctoral degreee he still thinks of himself as a mechanical engineer. He pondered on the idea that even though he’s traveled to space, he’s not one of the most famous astronauts, yet that doesn’t bother him at all. Olivas is an education enthusiast not only because it has taken him to the beyond, but because behind every door that education has opened he claims to have found another one.

“Graduate school and education, the only thing it did for me, it opened the universe,” Olivas said.

He also encouraged students to continue their education and claimed that graduate school is the place where students can mold themselves.

“[Graduate School] proves who we are and what we can do,” Olivas said.