The Highlander

Charles Bolden to speak at graduation

Former Administrator of NASA to deliver commencement speech

Astronaut+Charles+F.+Bolden+Jr.+%0APicture+obtained+under+public+domain
Astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. 
Picture obtained under public domain

Astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. Picture obtained under public domain

Astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. Picture obtained under public domain

Colin Edson, Editor in Chief

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Former Administrator of NASA under Barack Obama, Charles Bolden, will be this year’s graduation speaker. Bolden served as the 12th Administrator of NASA and was the first African American to do so. He will be speaking on June 8 at DAR Constitution Hall to the Class of 2018.
His distinguished career also includes over 30 years in the United States Marine Corps along with 14 years as a NASA astronaut, where he traveled to space four times, accruing over 600 hours in space. Principal Ellen Reilly felt confident that Bolden would make an inspirational graduation speaker.
“I knew he would be good purely based off of his life experiences… How many other people can say they have been to space?” Reilly said.
Reilly was able to reach out to him with the help of the class representatives.

You all have done something that is noteworthy and you should take pride in it. ”

— Graduation speaker Charles Bolden

“I reached out to him, but Marshall Pratt suggested to me that he would be a good speaker,” Reilly said.
For those reading about him, it may be no surprise that Bolden was given the offer of being the graduation speaker, but due to his humility, his reaction was quite the opposite.
“[When I found out], I was pretty startled because there are a lot of kids who have parents, relatives or friends that do really phenomenal things,” Bolden said. “I was kind of thinking that that would be the last thing that anybody would think about would be to invite me to speak to the graduating class of McLean.”
Unlike some graduating students, Bolden knew for certain what his next step was going to be after he graduated. He was going to go to the Naval Academy. What he did not know was that his career path was going to take a drastic turn and put him in the air as a pilot and in the Marine Corps, two things he told himself he would not do.
“I was a failure in following my goals and aspirations coming out of high school. When I graduated from high school. The one thing I knew was that I wanted to go to the Naval Academy,” Bolden said. “My goal was to go to the Naval Academy, become a member of the underwater demolitions team and then serve for five years, get out, go back to graduate school, get a master’s in electrical engineering and go make money. That was my long-term plan coming out of high school and I got to do none of that.”
While his life did not take the path he initially planned out, Bolden noted how crucial it was to embrace the influential people in his life.
“My mother and father were the very biggest and earliest influences on my life because they were great parents, but even more importantly, they were tremendous educators,” Bolden said.
Bolden advises students to remind themselves of the advice he gave to himself when he was in high school.
“Set your goals high and really continue to pursue them unless you are absolutely convinced that your goal has changed, like mine did, before I even got out of college,” Bolden said.
Bolden’s positive attitude is something he hopes will get through to graduating students. With his speech, he wants to ensure that the students don’t leave high school intimidated by what their future may hold.
“Whenever I have the opportunity to talk to a graduating class, whether it’s kindergarten, junior high, high school or college…I want to help you all leave school with a positive outlook on life and recognizing the fact that you’re leaving an environment where you form friendships that could stay with you forever,” Bolden said. “It is really critical to maintain the friendships that you have established over your period of time.”
Along with the theme of positivity, Bolden has included central messages into his speech that he hopes to convey to the students.
“One of your classmates relayed to me that you all are cool and you’re all stars. That is one of the messages that I am going to deliver…that all of you are stars in your own right,” Bolden said. “Everybody has some claim to fame, some of them may be smaller than others, at least in the minds of some people, but you all have done something that is noteworthy and you should take pride in it.”

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