The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

The student-run news site of Le Moyne College.

The Dolphin

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s visit at Le Moyne
Kamilla Shahzad, Staff Writer • May 17, 2024

On April 18 th , 2024, Le Moyne College had the privilege of hosting a special guest, acclaimed author Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, who delighted...

Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Column: The Long Journey at Le Moyne
Mary Anne Winfield, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

I never expected to be a “senior” senior at Le Moyne College. My first introduction to the college was in the 1970’s. I was a two-year...

Theta Chi house at Colgate University
Column: Why I want to see Greek life at Le Moyne College.
Payton Hirsch, Guest Writer • May 17, 2024

At Le Moyne College there is no presence of “Greek Life,” which has left many wondering why. According to Joseph Della Posta, the school’s...

Photo courtesy of Le Moyne; Images of Officer Jensen, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Lt. Hoosock posted at memorial service.
‘A True Leader and Phenomenal Teammate’: Remembering Fallen Officer, a Le Moyne Graduate
Stephen Moore and Aidan Clark May 8, 2024

The Rev. William Dolan wants you to know what the community lost when Michael Jensen, a Syracuse police officer and a Le Moyne graduate, was...

Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne  College’s History
Dr. James Carroll: The Donation that Rewrote Le Moyne College’s History
Legende McGrath, Guest Writer • May 7, 2024

In late March, Le Moyne College, specifically the College of Arts and Sciences, received a $12 million donation provided by Le Moyne alumnus...

From Syracuse to the Stars: Old Friend Marvels at Success of Astronaut Jeanette Epps

NASA Astronaut Jeanette Epps in action

Jeanette Epps stands at the forefront of space exploration, embodying resilience, and intellect while breaking barriers and redefining boundaries. Born in Syracuse, Epps emerged from humble beginnings. Her journey from the streets of Syracuse to the outer space epitomizes the ideal American dream—one that is fueled by ambition, perseverance, and a passion for exploration.

As an accomplished aerospace engineer and NASA astronaut, Epps has had the privilege of working on cutting-edge space missions and conducting groundbreaking research in the pursuit of expanding humanity’s understanding of the outer space. Epps’ academic career journey is as remarkable as her career.

She attended Corcoran High School in Syracuse. She earned her bachelor of science in physics from Le Moyne College and later obtained a master’s of science and doctorate of philosophy in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. Her academic expertise laid a solid foundation for her work in the field of aerospace.

From a young age, it was evident that Epps possessed a rare blend of intelligence, kindness, and unwavering determination. Hillary Hunter, a dear friend to Epps, grew up in Syracuse and attended Corcoran High School alongside Jeanette and her twin sister Janet. Their friendship in high school grew stronger as they shared classes and extracurricular activities. Hunter served as the class president while Epps held the position of class vice president.

“Looking back, even in high school I knew Jeanette and her sister Janet would be accomplished individuals. They were highly intelligent and succeeded at whatever they put their mind to,” said Hunter, as she reminisced about her school days with the twin sisters.

While Jeanette pursued her passion for science and engineering, Hunter ventured into the world of entrepreneurship, co-founding a company called Hunter and Hilsberg, known for its delectable fruit spreads and spicy sauces.

Despite pursuing different paths after college and losing touch for several years, their bond was reignited when NASA announced Jeanette’s acceptance into the astronaut class in 2009.

“Back then it was not easy to find someone if there was no forwarding address. Believe it or not, it was NASA that reconnected us!” Hunter shares with excitement. Epps’s selection was not only a personal triumph but also a historic moment, as she became the first African-American woman to be part of the International Space Station (ISS) crew. Having returned to Central New York after some time abroad, Hunter was pleasantly surprised to see an article prominently featuring Epps in the Syracuse paper. Prompted by this exciting news, she reached out to the journalist who wrote the piece, who then contacted NASA on her behalf.

Amazingly, within a day, Epps reached out to Hunter via email, reigniting their friendship.

From left to right: Fran Hunter, Kay Hilsberg, Hillary Hunter, and Jeanette Epps in Syracuse, circa 2019.

Ever since then, they seized every opportunity to meet whenever Epps visited Central New York, while maintaining regular communication throughout the years via messaging. Epps even surprised Hunter with a call from space, allowing them to “Facetime” while she orbited the Earth—an experience that left Hunter in awe of the incredible journey her friend was on.

Reflecting on their friendship, Hunter emphasized the unwavering kindness, perseverance, and deep faith Epps possessed, which remained constant throughout her life. They continue to support and inspire each other, sharing laughter, encouragement, and genuine interest in each other’s endeavors, just as they did when they were kids.

“Adulthood matures and polishes a person, but at our core, we carry the same principles and interests as when we were young.  Janet and Jeanette are incredibly kind and considerate individuals; they put up with my jokes, they tell me ‘sciencey’ things that I find interesting, but I otherwise can’t understand, and I tell them about my business things which they are always kind enough to show an interest [just like when we were young].

“We laugh and tease each other and genuinely cheer each other on.  I admire them so much for all that they are and that has not changed with time.  It’s a privilege to have people like that in your life: people who truly inspire you,” said Hunter, expressing her gratitude.

Jeanette has remained a person of deep faith since they first met despite her success, a quality that Hunter believes students at Le Moyne may find admirable. “The Jeanette that I remember is the person I see today: someone who sees the good in people, someone who believes that goodness always overcomes the bad – it just takes time and patience,” says Hunter.

The principles she shares in the public align closely to her actions: a commitment to hard work, perseverance, and maintaining focus on the positive aspects of life while not allowing herself to be derailed by negativity. Through her interviews, Epps often encourages others to challenge themselves, step out of their comfort zones, and discover their protentional—a message rooted in
personal experience.

“It’s sage advice that I hope students will take to heart!” says Hunter.

Today, Epps is in space for her journey to the international space station with SpaceX Crew-8 for six months, conducting experiments, and contributing to scientific research that could shape the future of space exploration. She has overcome obstacles and challenges with grace and determination, inspiring others to pursue their dreams relentlessly. Her expertise and dedication have earned her the respect of her peers and solidified her position as a role model for aspiring scientists and engineers worldwide.

“What truly inspires me, is her perseverance amid challenging circumstances, and her steadfast kindness through it all. Hard work and perseverance can pay off.  Her life’s journey is a testament to that.  And remaining kind and generous-in-spirit through it all is the ultimate life inspiration for me,” Hunter shares proudly.

As we look to the stars under the Syracuse sky, let’s draw inspiration from the extraordinary life and legacy of Jeanette Epps. She remains a beacon of hope and possibility. Her journey serves as a reminder that the sky is not the limit — it is only the beginning of a journey that stretches into infinity. And as she continues to push the boundaries of human achievement, Epps inspires us all to dream bigger, reach higher, and embrace the boundless possibilities that await us among the stars.

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