Sunita Williams

Honorary Degree Citation

Sunita Williams

Sunita Williams. NASA astronaut, U.S. Navy Commander, scientist and engineer, competitive athlete—on earth and in space. As a flight engineer on the International Space Station from December 2006 to June 2007, you established world records for women, with four spacewalks totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes and with 195 days in space. Born in Euclid, Ohio, you consider Needham, Massachusetts, your hometown. A graduate of Needham High School, you went on pursue your undergraduate education in physical sciences at the United States Naval Academy. You received your commission as an ensign in the United States Navy in 1987. You were designated a naval aviator in 1989 and graduated from Naval Test Pilot School in 1993. You have logged thousands of flight hours in more than 30 different types of aircraft and also found time to earn a master of science degree in engineering management from the Florida Institute of Technology. You have been deployed in the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Shield and in the United States in support of relief operations such as the one following Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1992. In 1998 you were selected by NASA for astronaut candidate training. Your first assignment as member of a NASA crew was not in space but involved nine days living below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean as part of the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations program. After eight years of rigorous training, you arrived at the International Space Station on December 11, 2006. On April 16, 2007, you ran the first marathon by an astronaut in orbit, in parallel with the Boston Marathon, which your sister and a fellow astronaut ran back on Earth. Since returning to Earth on June 22, 2007, you have received many local, national, and international honors, including being named Person of the Week by ABC Television and meeting with President Pratibha Patil in your ancestral home of India.

By the authority of the Board of Trustees of Colby College, I confer upon you, Sunita Lyn Williams, the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa. The hood with which you have been invested and this diploma which I place in your hand are visible symbols of your membership in this society of scholars, to all the rights and privileges of which I declare you entitled.

Conferred May 25, 2008


Sunita Williams has logged more than 2,770 flight hours in more than 30 different aircraft and has spent 195 days in space, a record among female astronauts. A naval aviator, Williams was selected for the astronaut program in 1998. She worked with the Russian Space Agency on its contribution to the International Space Station (ISS) and within NASA on the ISS robotic arm. Her four spacewalks totaling 29 hours and 17 minutes established the world record for women. Williams was awarded two Navy Commendation Medals, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, a Humanitarian Service Medal, and various other service awards.

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