N.C. A&T to Honor Late NASA Astronaut Ronald McNair in 35th Celebration

By Tonya Dixon / 01/27/2021 Student Affairs, Alumni

Greensboro, N.C. (Jan. 27, 2021) — North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will honor the life and legacy of alumnus Ronald E. McNair in the 35th commemorative celebration: “The Future of Space Exploration and Security.” The virtual event will take place Thursday, Jan. 28, at noon, via live stream. Registration is required.

McNair graduated from N.C. A&T in 1971 with a B.S. in physics and went on to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics five years later. In 1978, McNair, one of the first African American astronauts, was selected as a mission specialist astronaut for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Shuttle Program. On Jan. 28, 1986, he was aboard the Challenger for his second mission when it experienced fatal malfunctions upon takeoff. McNair died along with six other crew members.

The celebration will begin with special greetings from Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. and Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughn, followed by special tributes from those closest to McNair, including his wife, Cheryl, and brother, Carl. Many McNair Scholars and students inspired by his life and contributions to science will also share his impact and importance to their lives and education.

Highlighting the tribute will be a special panel conversation discussing the celebration theme and offering insight and examples of how McNair trailblazed within the field of physics and beyond. Panelists will include moderator, Joeletta Patrick, Ph.D., director of the California STEM Engagement Office at Ames Research Center and Armstrong Flight Research Center; and panelists Joan Higginbotham, electrical engineer and retired NASA astronaut; Dannellia Gladden-Green, Ph.D., founding owner of SAGEsse Consulting; Diamond Shekinah Mangrum, 2020 N.C. A&T graduate and former analytical chemistry and biology intern at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and at NASA’s Langley Research Center; and Manuel Retana, NASA project engineer in Environmental Control and Life Support Systems for the International Space Station at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

The program will also include art presentations from Ronald E. McNair Elementary School students, McNair’s beloved fraternity Omega Psi Phi , the N.C. A&T Gospel Choir and more.

Free registration is available online.

Media Contact Information: tddixon1@ncat.edu

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