History-making NASA astronaut retires

A history-making astronaut has officially retired, leaving in her wake a stream of firsts and records set.

According to the Associated Press, NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson has retired almost a year after her last and longest space flight. In her storied career, not only was Whitson the first woman to command the International Space Station, AP reports that she has “spent more time off the planet than any other American: 665 days over three space station missions,” not to mention that she’s “also the world’s most experienced female spacewalker, with 10 under her spacesuit belt.”

Joining NASA in 1986 as a researcher, AP says Whitson’s career highlights also include  serving as the only female chief of NASA’s “male-dominated astronaut corps,” as well as being the oldest woman to ever fly in space.

Director of flight operations at Johnson Space Center in Houston Brian Kelly explained Whitson’s impact in this way:

“She set the highest standards for human spaceflight operations, as well as being an outstanding role model for women and men in America and across the globe.”

As for Whitson, she took to Twitter to express how significant her time as a NASA astronaut has been, calling it “the greatest honor to live out my lifelong dream.”

#MeToo movement makes way for more female graduation speakers

Graduation from any level of education is significant, but this year, there is added meaning to the ceremonies.

According to the Associated Press, 2018 marks a milestone in U.S. college graduation exercises, as “the majority of the nation’s top colleges are featuring women as their spring commencement speakers” for the first time in at least two decades. The impetus behind the change? AP reports that industry experts are crediting the swing toward female speaks to the #MeToo movement that has reignited the flame of female empowerment in the United States and around the world.

And the increase in female commencement speakers this year is significant; AP reports that this year, “women account for nearly 60 percent of the speakers at the 25 schools that have the largest endowments and traditionally carry the clout to draw big names to the lectern.” In previous years, however, AP says women accounted for a mere quarter of the speakers at those same schools over the past 19 years.

While AP says that while some universities said the #MeToo movement didn’t specifically shape their decisions, companies hired to find commencement speakers said that they’ve seen a major increase in requests for women that correlated with the timing of the the #MeToo movement’s inception and takeoff.

“There’s been a much bigger push to bring in white females, black females — anyone other than a white male,” said Richard Schelp, owner of Executive Speakers Bureau.

So just who are some of the women speaking at graduations this year? For starters, Sheryl Sandberg will do the honors of delivering a commencement address at MIT, according to AP, while Dartmouth will host Mindy Kaling. Not to mention Amal Clooney will descend upon Vanderbilt, while AP says Hillary Clinton will return to her alma mater and speak at Yale’s commencement.



USMC rumored to move toward gender equality

Gender equality may find its way into the male-dominated territory of the United States Marine Corps.

According to Glamour, the Associated Press reported that “senior Marine leaders are now considering allowing women to attend what has traditionally been a male-only combat training facility in Southern California.” Additionally, officials may also allow women to train at the all-male San Diego facility, says Glamour, as opposed to attending their typical boot camp in South Carolina.

Prior to these rumors, Glamour reports that many argued in support of separate training facilities, asserting that they allow women to “become more physically competitive before joining their male counterparts,” while also giving women a support system to help them through their first stages of military service.

Meanwhile, others say that allowing men and women to train together may help foster more positive relationships and respect for female service members, according to Glamour.

Here’s hoping the USMC can address this gender divide.

Born to Dance

The American Ballet Theatre announced on Tuesday that Misty Copeland, famed ballerina who recently made her New York debut in “Swan Lake,” has been named principal dancer at the company. According to The Associated Press, Copeland is “the first African-American ballerina to achieve that status in the company’s 75-year history.”

The Associated Press says that Copeland, 32, has risen to fame over the past few years, appearing on the cover of Time magazine earlier in 2015 as one of their most influential people, while also penning a children’s book and a memoir. Her memoir,  “Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina,” which tells of the challenges she faced in achieving her dreams, has been optioned for a movie, according to The Associated Press.

Copeland has also been an influential force in diversifying the world of ballet. In an interview with The Associated Press, author and former editor of Dance Magazine Wendy Perron said that in Copeland’s performance of Swan Lake last week, a more diverse audience gathered to watch her dance, including a strong presence of “young black girls in their party dresses.” Perron said, “‘She singlehandedly made that a diverse audience.'”

Former principal dancer for the New York City Ballet and director of the International Dance Festival Damian Woetzel told The Associated Press, “‘…As a groundbreaking principal dancer, she will continue to inspire and make possible much-needed changes for our field and for the arts in America.'”

Congratulations, Misty Copeland!

102-year-old Woman Receives Doctorate Denied Under Nazis

It’s never too late to achieve your dreams – that’s what 102-year-old Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport proved to the world this week.

According to the Associated Press, Syllm-Rapoport, a German native, was not allowed to present and defend her doctoral thesis in 1938; at this time, Germany was under Nazi control, and they prevented Syllm-Rapoport’s presentation because she was part-Jewish. But this Tuesday, Syllm-Rapoport became Germany’s oldest doctorate recipient at the age of 102.

Syllm-Rapaport received her doctorate in neonatology, passing her final oral exam last month. The Associated Press reports that in her acceptance speech given at a ceremony in her honor, Syllm-Rapaport said that she continued to pursue her degree not for her own personal benefit, but “for all the others who suffered form injustice during the Third Reich.”

After being denied the chance to present her thesis back in 1938, the Associated Press reports that Syllm-Rapaport moved to the United States, where she completed her studies in Philadelphia. She went on to work as a pediatrician before moving back to East Berlin with her husband in 1952, where she became the first head of the neonatology department at the Charite hospital in Berlin.

And not only did Syllm-Rapaport finally earn her degree this week after waiting nearly 80 years, she also passed with flying colors – she earned an overall grade of magna cum laude.

Ingeborg Syllm-Rapaport, thanks for showing us all that you can achieve your dreams at any age. You are truly living an inspired life!