NASA Vet To Be “Out of This World” Keynote Speaker


Girls and young women attending the Oct. 22 Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science Conference at MTSU will be in for a treat. The keynote speaker for the very first EYH in 1997 will be addressing the participants at the 20th annual gathering.

Astronaut Rhea Seddon
Astronaut Rhea Seddon

Murfreesboro native, physician and 19-year NASA veteran Rhea Seddon — a two-time mission specialist (1985 and ’91) and payload commander in charge of all science activities in her final space flight (’93) — has agreed to provide the keynote at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, in the Ned McWherter Learning Resources Center.

Openings remain for middle school and high school girls to register for Expanding Your Horizons, a STEM-centered (science, technology, engineering and math) conference running from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The deadline to register is Thursday, Aug. 25, by going to and clicking on “EYH” and then “Registration.” A link for two parent or guardian release forms is included on the registration page.

EYH is a hands-on math and science event to help girls consider careers in these fields as well as engineering and technology. EYH gives girls opportunities to talk with women in STEM and attend this type of conference with other girls.

Seddon looks forward to her appearance and sharing her wisdom. One of her favorite themes to share with young people is “if you can see it, you can be it.”

“I’ve enjoyed so many wonderful opportunities, but it took quite a few years of hard work and preparation,” Seddon said of her career in general.

Girls and young women from both 2016 and 1997 ask similar questions when they realize an astronaut is in their midst.

“Girls want to hear what it was like to be an astronaut,” she said. “I try to show young people what it’s like, what life is like and how to get there.”

She also shares the importance of taking STEM courses in STEM or science, technology, engineering and math, and that it’s possible for a woman astronaut to have a family.

Her book, “Go for Orbit,” the recipient of a 2016 Independent Book Publisher’s Association Ben Franklin Award, provides insight into the U.S. space program from a woman’s perspective for the first time.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Seddon as our keynote,” said Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross, an MTSU chemistry professor and director of both EYH and the MTSU Women in STEM (WISTEM) Center. “She is an outstanding role model for these young women.”

Iriarte-Gross added that workshops for adults planning to attend will soon be added to the website.

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