Posts Tagged NASA

Space Shuttle Mission Commander Eileen Collins Welcomed to Eli’s Cheesecake World and Wright College for the Chicago Humanities Festival

On July 26, 2005, Americans watched anxiously as the first “Return to Flight” Space Shuttle Mission following the Space Shuttle Columbia Disaster was launched from the Kennedy Space Center. I was very interested in learning the background of the individual selected to command the mission. Doing research, I learned that it was Eileen Collins, an Air Force Colonel and the first female to pilot a space shuttle and, in 1999, the first female space shuttle mission commander.

In learning about Commander Collins background, I was most interested to learn that she started her post secondary academic career at Corning Community College later going on to advanced degrees at Syracuse, Webster and Stanford.

With the theme of the 19th Annual Chicago Humanities Festival being “Thinking Big,” there was no doubt that Eileen Collins was a big thinker and that, as a community college graduate, would be perfect to feature at Wright College. Also because of the strong ties of Wright to aviation and O’Hare, we were honored that the City of Chicago Department of Aviation could be a sponsor of the event as well.









Commander Collins came to Wright earlier on the day of her Chicago Humanities Festival Presentation to meet with Wright and local high school students. We hosted a reception for her at Eli’s before the evening presentation. Above , Commander Collins is greeted by Rich Rodriquez, the Commissioner of Aviation for the City of Chicago and a sponsor of the event. On the right, Commander Collins meets Dr. Charles Guengerich, the President of Wright, his wife Diane and daughter Alison.








Now retired from the Air Force and NASA, Commander Collins is a strong advocate for young woman pursing careers in math and science. Here audience at Wright included many young women who could see the possibility of one day becoming a test pilot or an astronaut. In a time when America is falling far behind in producing scientists and engineers, it is most great to have Commander Collins share her life story of success.

Eli’s Maureen and Marc Schulman give Commander Collins a quick tour of the Eli’s Bakery. On the right, Commander Collins is greeted by Eli’s Executive Vice President, Jolene Worthington, Mary Gale, Bill Rosa and Ramito Garcia.

Eli’s Associates get an opportunity to meet Commander Collins. She is a big fan of chocolate and sampled a number of Eli’s Chocolate Cheesecakes and Desserts.








We were honored that Dr. Carla Pugh of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Northwestern University Medical School, also a presenter for the Chicago Humanities Festival, could attend the presentation at Wright. Both Pugh and Collins have advanced degrees from Stanford; Pugh a PhD in Education and Collins a Masters degree in Operations Research.

Commander Collins had a Standing Room Only audience in the Wright Atrium appropriately under a replica of the Wright Brothers first air plane to fly. On December 17, 2004, Wright hosted the official Chicago celebration for the 100th Anniversary of Flight.

Commander Collins was a great speaker and stayed until 10:30pm answering every question and signing dozens of autographs.

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Astronaut Eileen Collins to be featured speaker at Wright College as a program of the Chicago Humanities Festival

In its 19th year, the Chicago Humanities Festival offers
Chicagoans a wide range of lectures, films and performances during its Fall
schedule, this year from October 3rd to November 16th. A full list of CHF
Programs for 2008 can be found at

Eli’s Cheesecake has enjoyed a long term relationship with CHF
traditionally providing desserts for the CHF Annual Gala. Our educational
partner, Wright College, has also been a long time supporter of the CHF as one
of the few community colleges in the country that uses the Great Books

Last year, Eli’s was delighted to work with Wright to bring
Richard Fishman, Professor and Chairman of the Creative Arts Council at Brown
University to Wright to speak about the Elm Tree Project.

This year we are honored that Colonel Eileen Collins, the first
women space shuttle pilot and commander, will speak at Wright as part of the
19th Annual Chicago Humanities Festival on Thursday, October 30th. The program
at 7:30pm is free to students and is only $5 for the general public. We are very
grateful to the City of Chicago Department of Aviation for supporting the

Colonel Collins has been recognized as one of America’s most
admired woman. Her last mission was in July 2005 when she commanded the Space
Shuttle Discovery’s historic “Return to Flight” mission. This was NASA’s first
manned flight following the loss of the Shuttle Columbia.

As a child in Elmira, New York, Collins dreamed of becoming a
pilot. Because her family lacked the funds to send her away to college, Collins
first post-secondary degree was an associate’s degree in mathematics and science
at Corning Community College. This led to a bachelors degree at Syracuse
University and masters degrees from Stanford and Webster University.

In a time when math and science skills are so important and
there is a need for more students to see their careers can start at a community
college and take them literally to space, we are honored to welcome Colonel
Collins to Wright College and the 19th Annual Chicago Humanities














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