DeBakey Students Discuss Medicine and Space with NASA Astronaut

Students at DeBakey participated in a live discussion and presentation by former NASA astronaut, engineer, U.S. Marine Corps Colonel and jet fighter pilot, and medical doctor, Dr. David Hilmers, Dr. Hilmers provided his personal story about his journey of lifetime of learning, his NASA space missions, and his current medical missions throughout the world. The sessions were virtual and held via Zoom for students from grades 5 – 12 over the span of 2 days. Dr. Hilmers joined us from Australia and started by discussing the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on his work and Australia.

He then provided insight into his early life and service as a U.S. Marine. He discussed how he transition from being a jet fighter pilot to becoming an astronaut. He further inspired the students to follow their passion as he did. After he retired from NASA, he started medical school to become a doctor, which had been his life-long dream since childhood. His life’s journey was fascinating as he told students about what it was like to study electrical engineering, to become a jet fighter pilot, his role on various NASA space missions, and what it was like to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor.

“When I applied for to be an astronaut, I didn’t think much of it, I read an advertisement and though why not try this opportunity to apply my knowledge,” said Dr. Hilmers.

Talking about space and the missions he was on, Dr. Hilmers could not help but smile as he showed off photographs taken from earth and from space.

He talked about Earth’s environment and the experiments he got to do for innovative medicine and engineering projects during his missions in space.

“Someday, one of you will go out and discover what else is out there,” said Dr. Hilmers, emphasizing the need to take care of our earth to ensure that it would keep us alive until we do achieve greatness. Dr. Hilmers talked about his humanitarian work in less developed regions of the world.

Students asked questions about the nature of Dr. Hilmers’ choices especially in his work and studies after he concluded and he provided responses to each question.

For all of the participates, including several Board of Trustees, this was a wonderful and inspiring learning session.

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