NASA’s First Woman Space Shuttle Commander Returns to CNY

Bridge Street

Colonel Eileen Collins was the first woman at NASA to pilot and command a space shuttle. This month, she returns to her alma mater, Syracuse University, to receive the Military Veteran Alumni Award during the Orange Central weekend. 

Colonel Collins graduated from Syracuse University in 1978. As a student, Collins was a member of the ROTC program. Collins characterized her time at Syracuse University by saying, “I had a social life, I loved going to parties, I went to all the football games… but I studied all the time…and I even spent my Saturday nights cramming for exams. It was important for me to get good grades because it would help me get into pilot training with the Air Force. So, I really buckled down as a student.” 

As the first woman to pilot and command a NASA space shuttle, there were very high expectations of her. She recalls, “My women friends who are pilots put a lot of pressure on me–they were like ‘do it for us Eileen’…and I was like, ‘Woah, I better not make a mistake,’ because I wanna do it for them…but I think it was a good pressure.” 

Colonel Collins recently published a book entitled Through the Glass Ceiling to the Stars which chronicles her journey as a female pilot.

“This is the story of how I joined the Air Force, how I set my goal of becoming an astronaut, and the steps along the way and the failures I had along the way”  

Colonel Eileen Collins

Colonel Collins will be receiving the Military Veteran Alumni Award during Orange Central happening October 28th through the 31st on the SU campus. She will be at the Syracuse University Bookstore signing books from 1:00 p.m. until 2:00 p.m. on Friday, October 22nd. To learn more about the weekend and all events planned, visit CuseCommunity.syr.edu

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