Former NASA astronaut and four-star general to address Florida Poly graduates

Kevin P. Chilton, standing second from left, poses with the rest of the Endeavour crew members after landing in 1992. Chilton, now a retired U.S. Air Force general, will be the commencement speaker at Florida Polytechnic University’s spring 2019 graduation. (Photo: NASA)

LAKELAND, Fla.–Close to 300 Florida Polytechnic University students will receive undergraduate and graduate degrees at the Spring 2019 Commencement, as retired Air Force general and three-time space shuttle astronaut Kevin P. Chilton inspires them to launch their high-tech careers and reach new heights.

Florida Poly’s graduation ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, at the RP Funding Center (Jenkins Arena), located at 701 W. Lime St., in Lakeland.

Chilton, the commencement speaker, completed a 34-year military career and served as an astronaut for 11 years. He logged more than 700 hours in space as a pilot of Shuttle Endeavour missions in 1992 and 1994, and as the commander of Atlantis in 1996. Chilton was the deputy program manager for operations for the International Space Station Program from 1996 to 1998. He also served as commander of the U.S. Strategic Command from 2007 to 2011. He retired from the Air Force as a four-star general in 2011 and was inducted into the U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame on 2012.

This is Florida Poly’s second four-year class graduation and its largest with 278 graduates. Established in 2012 as the only state institution dedicated exclusively to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), the University’s focus is to graduate students who are lifetime employable and equipped to become the high-tech leaders of the future.

“We are so proud of these students for their commitment, dedication and intent focus on their goals and dreams to earn their college degree,” said Dr. Randy K. Avent, president of Florida Poly. “This degree is a significant milestone in the lives of our students as they graduate ready to begin their careers and make an impact throughout the world. Our students have worked exceptionally hard and I’m sure their accomplishments will be remarkable.”

The ceremony will also feature an address by student speaker Travis Hills, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in computer science with a concentration in cybersecurity. Hills, from Tampa, Florida, was also president of the Student Government Association (SGA).

“I am honored to have the opportunity to say a few words to Florida Polys Graduating Class of 2019. It’s been a long four years, but it has been some of the best years of my life,” said Hills.

“I’m excited to see where the rest of my classmates’ pursuits leads them to in the years to come, and to see what Florida Poly’s future has in store.”

To learn more about this year’s graduates visit Florida Poly News.

About Florida Polytechnic University: Florida Polytechnic University is an accredited member of the State University System of Florida, dedicated exclusively to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The University is a powerful economic engine within the state of Florida, blending applied research with industry partnerships to give students an academically rigorous education with real-world relevance. The campus is located in Lakeland, Florida along the I-4 High Tech Corridor. Connect with Florida Poly.

Lydia Guzman
Assistant Director of Communications

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