Press Release

NASA Astronaut To Address Students At VALHEN Hispanic College Institute

By SpaceRef Editor
July 18, 2013
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HAMPTON, Va. – NASA astronaut Serena Aunon will share her personal experiences and insight into the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program when she meets with more than 100 first-generation Hispanic students during a hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workshop.

The event will be held Friday, July 19, from 9 a.m. until noon in Anderson Turner Auditorium at Virginia State University located at 1 Hayden Drive Petersburg, Va. Representatives of the media who wish to attend must contact Sasha Congiu at 757-272-9859 or by 3 p.m. July 18.

Aunon was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2009 and completed astronaut candidacy training in 2011. She serves as a flight surgeon at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

NASA is partnering with the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN) for the 2013 Hispanic College Institute (HCI), a four-day, pre-college access program from July 17-20, at the Reginald F. Lewis College of Business of Virginia State University.

“We wish to express our appreciation to NASA, our sponsors and collaborators, and Dr. Keith T. Miller, president of Virginia State University, for their unwavering support to ensure Hispanic and Latino students in the Commonwealth have an opportunity to take advantage of this excellent college-access preparation program,” said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, VALHEN President, chair of the HCI program, and dean of the College of Business at VSU.

The program provides clear and practical college application and financial aid information and allows first-generation students the opportunity to engage with successful leaders and role models who will help inform them about career and educational opportunities.

NASA’s participation is part of its Summer of Innovation (SOI) project, designed to improve the skills and enhance the engagement of America’s students in STEM. During the institute, employees from NASA’s Langley Research Center, located in Hampton, Va., will provide NASA-related STEM activities and information about career options related to STEM.

Students also will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from various universities, as well as members of VSU’s admissions office. Parents will meet and speak with VSU’s president, receive a campus tour, have lunch with the president, other administrators, participating parents and students, and participate in the HCI’s closing ceremonies, July 20.

VALHEN is an educator-led, volunteer-based non-profit dedicated to shaping Virginia’s future by promoting access to and success in higher education for the Latino and Hispanic community.

To learn more about NASA’s Summer of Innovation project, visit:

To learn more about Virginia State University (VSU), visit:

For more information about VALHEN, visit:

SpaceRef staff editor.