Defining Persistence

This year’s NAGC Communications School provided great opportunities
to learn, network and hear great speakers. The breakout sessions touched on
numerous topics relevant to government communicators and the challenges we face
each day. One of the most engaging and interesting breakout sessions was the
session about journalists’ perceptions of public information officers. Anyone
who heard Doc Trahan open the school with his “Gumbo Leadership” speech swore
they could taste the gumbo afterwards, and they let with terrific leadership
tips. My favorite session was the keynote delivered by Mike Foreman, the NASA
astronaut whose personal story exemplifies persistence.
According to Foreman, he knew from the time he was eight
years old that he wanted to become a naval aviator and an astronaut. He finished high school, applied for and was
accepted to the Naval Academy. Once he completed the Naval
Academy, he applied for naval
aviator training. He was finally accepted on his 8th attempt! After completing aviator school Mike applied to NASA
for astronaut training. He was 41 years
old when he was finally admitted into NASA for astronaut training, but Mike
Foreman was accepted into the NASA program and trained as a payload specialist.
He realized his dream of becoming and astronaut and flew on two shuttle
missions, walking in space numerous times.
I must admit that I have had a passion for space exploration
since I was five and may be predisposed to a speech by an astronaut. I grew up
in Houston, Texas,
during the height of the space race; that would be the 60’s for those of you
too young to remember. Many of my friends’ parents worked at the Johnson
Space Center
and our schools followed every mission with rapt attention.
Mike Foreman’s speech kindled a nostalgic streak I didn’t
know I had. Rarely do I look backward except to glean lessons learned from
life’s opportunities. But for a few
minutes that afternoon, I was a kid again, watching an honest to goodness hero
talk passionately about his journey toward a dream. I cannot say what it’s like
to walk in space; it’s something I doubt I will ever have the opportunity to
do. But Mike Foreman helped me remember what it was like to be part of a
national obsession, because obsession is the best way to describe that race to
beat the Russians in space exploration. Astronaut Foreman also made me remember
to dream big and to NEVER give up on my dreams. His lesson of passion and
persistence is one we can all to emulate.
Submitted by Kathryn Stokes, NAGC Board member and Strategic Affairs Officer/Public Relations Manager

at the Mississippi Department of Employment Security.

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