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Former astronaut visits USU

Garn tells students to remember who they are

Published: Thursday, October 20, 2005

Updated: Monday, August 9, 2010 14:08

Being direct and honest in all professional and personal relationships is what former astronaut and senator Jake Garn emphasized to Utah State University students Thursday in the Taggart Student Center Auditorium.

In two different lectures, Garn spoke not only of his experiences of dealing with public relations officials and reporters, but also how humans should treat each other during "our ride on spaceship Earth."

"Over and over again, being direct solves so many problems," Garn said. "I have found over the years that the best public relations was to be straight forward and honest."

Beginning in 1971, Garn served as mayor of Salt Lake City, U.S. senator and also a payload specialist aboard NASA's space shuttle Discovery, making him the first legislator in space.

Garn spoke of the immensity of space and the perspective it gave him looking down on Earth.

"It's a remarkable experience from the standpoint of what it does to your life," Garn said. "We're all children of God traveling on spaceship Earth together."

Aboard the space shuttle, there were people of five different religions, but they were all there for the same goal, Garn said.

With his experience as a pilot in the United States Navy and later as a member of the Utah Air National Guard, USU also invited Garn to fly an exact replica of the Wright brothers' plane during the Wright Flyer centennial celebration held in Dayton, Ohio, in 2003.

"I got to see him make history," Trina Paskett, USU public relations specialist who was involved in the project, said. "To see him fly a replica of the first plane was amazing to me."

Garn was grateful to USU to be able to participate in such an event. He told reporters through tears that he was able to cover aviation history backwards from going into space to flying the first plane.

"It was the culmination of my entire aviation career," Garn said.

Through each of his experiences during his career, he said he always tried to remember what his mother told him to not forget who he is and where he came from.

"Don't take yourself too seriously," Garn said.

Also, as a politician, Garn emphasized the fact that all opinions are valuable in making a decision. Garn is currently a self-employed consultant and recently hosted the Association of Space Explorers XIX Planetary Congress Oct. 9-15 in Salt Lake City.

-mmackay@cc.usu.edu

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