• James Robertson | Contributing Writer

Rocket man comes to GC

The former commander of the International Space Station turned documentarian and photographer, Terry W. Virts, will be the keynote speaker at GCSU Inspire! Student Leadership on Oct. 10 in the Magnolia Ballroom.

“We try to bring these high profile, influential people to GCSU and they share ideas, but our students get to ask them questions that you don’t often get to ask people at this level,” said Harold Mock, director of leadership programs and assistant professor of history. “For me this will probably be the first and last time in my life I get to ask an astronaut about problems he’s tried to solve, ideas he’s been interested in, what his favorite things are to read.”

The Inspire Leadership Forum is a program that brings in speakers to come and talk about leadership with students, followed by a question and answer session.

Questions can be about the lesson, though students are encouraged to enquire beyond the given topic to learn what makes a successful individual and leader tick.

Students of all majors can learn important leadership skills at these forums.

The speakers share the wisdom they have obtained throughout their life and pass it on, so students can better themselves with this knowledge.

These important skills can be applied after the leave the forum in the classroom and extracurricular involvement, or later on in life in internships and jobs.

“Any GC student is more than welcome to come,” said senior Nancy Leslie, leadership program intern and mass communication major.

Leslie is responsible for coordinating the event, with responsibilities such as room reservations, catering, posters, and other behind the scenes work.

Her efforts will help set the stage for Commander Virt’s talk, titled “What is possible?”

He brings with him a lifetime of forging leadership skills, cultivating curiosity and pushing limits.

Virts started his career as a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, and now pursues his personal passions of travel and photography.

Using a degree to springboard into a successful career and pursuing lifelong interests are values that align with the core beliefs of the liberal arts.

“I like that [Inspire! Student Forum] has people from outside GC and outside the field of education,” said sophomore Shelby Bennett, a criminal justice major. “It keeps me updated and on the forefront of the newest concepts leaders are talking about.”

In addition to commanding the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Endeavor, Commander Virts is a retired Air Force Colonel and his book, titled View From Above, was recently published by National Geographic.

Copies of the book will be available at the forum.

Turnout for this particular forum is expected to be higher than normal.

“What makes this one special for us is that Commander Virts is an internationally recognized personality,” said Mock. “He has accomplished things people all over the world would recognize and value.”

Students also have the ability to nominate people who they think would be a benefit to the program by going to the Inspire! Leadership page.

“It may be we can’t bring that person, but it gives us an indication of what people are interested in, who they might like to hear from,” said Mock.

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