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Astronaut Coleman to Speak at Northfield Mount Hermon Commencement

Astronaut Coleman to Speak at Northfield Mount Hermon Commencement

Dr. Cady Coleman, a former NASA astronaut and a strong advocate for inclusion in STEAM fields, will be the keynote speaker at Northfield Mount Hermon’s 141st commencement ceremony on May 19.

portrait of astronaut Cady Coleman in her space suit

“I’m delighted and honored to be the commencement speaker for Northfield Mount Hermon’s Class of 2024,” Coleman said. “As the mother of two NMH graduates, I have great respect for the education the school provides and the values it cultivates.”

During her NASA career, Coleman, an Air Force colonel, took part in two space shuttle missions, laying the groundwork for astronauts to conduct pioneering research aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and launching the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which enables scientists around the world to learn about black holes and dark matter. 

Coleman also spent six months on the ISS, serving as the lead robotics and lead science officer, performing hundreds of experiments and leading the second-ever robotic capture of a supply ship from the station. While on the ISS, she also found some time for artistic endeavors: A flutist, Coleman performed a 2011 St. Patrick’s Day greeting from the station, on instruments loaned to her by members of the traditional Irish band the Chieftains. She and her fellow astronauts also coached Sandra Bullock as the actor prepared to play an astronaut in the movie “Gravity.” 

As an undergraduate at MIT, Coleman was inspired by a lecture given by Sally Ride, the United States’ first female astronaut. “I remember being in the auditorium and thinking, ‘Wow, we have these things in common, could I do the things that she has done?’” Coleman told a reporter years later. 

“We are honored that Cady Coleman has accepted an invitation from our senior class to speak at this year’s commencement,” said NMH Head of School Brian Hargrove. “Her story serves as both an inspiration and an affirmation of the values at the heart of our school: academic excellence and innovation, creativity, service to a greater good, and inclusion.” 

astronaut Cady Coleman on the International Space Station

Coleman is now a research affiliate at the MIT Media Lab and recently completed a residency at Arizona State University as its Global Explorer. At ASU, she co-hosted the podcast “Mission: Interplanetary,” on which she and physicist and author Andrew Maynard interviewed a range of guests — scientists, artists, engineers, science fiction writers — about the future of humans in space. In addition, Coleman regularly consults on space-related issues for researchers and the media, including co-anchoring ABC News’ coverage of SpaceX launches and the Perseverance Mars Rover landing.

Coleman serves as a board member of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Greenfield Community College, and the ISS National Lab Education Advisory Group. 

She lives in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, with her husband, glass artist Josh Simpson. Their two sons are both NMH alums: Josiah Simpson, class of 2002, and Jamey Simpson, class of 2019. She and her family were recently featured in two documentaries: PBS’s “Space: The Longest Goodbye” and “The Wonderful: Stories from the Space Station.” Her book, “Sharing Space: An Astronaut’s Guide to Mission, Wonder, and Making Change,” about her NASA experiences and the insights she gained as an astronaut, is due out this summer. 


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