Dunbar to offer keynote address

Astronaut slated for university graduation


Bonnie Dunbar

— Heritage University will host former NASA astronaut and Outlook native Bonnie Dunbar as commencement speaker this Saturday.

Undergraduate and graduate students from the Yakima Valley and from regional sites in the Tri-Cities, Moses Lake and Wenatchee will participate in the ceremony.

The university’s 34th commencement exercise is 10 a.m. Saturday at the Yakima Valley Sundome

Overall, 358 students are earning their degrees at Heritage this year.

Dunbar was raised in Outlook and graduated from Sunnyside High School.

She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in ceramic engineering from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in mechanical/medical engineering from the University of Houston.

She worked for the Rockwell International Space Division Company, building Space Shuttle Columbia.

Dunbar worked for 27 years at NASA, first as a flight controller; then as a mission specialist astronaut, where she, made five space shuttle flights.

She logged more than 50 days in space.

Dunbar was a member of the Senior Executive service, which included being assistant NASA Johnson Space Center director for university research; deputy director for Flight Crew Operations; and as NASA headquarters deputy associate administrator for the Office of Life and Microgravity Sconces and Applications (OLMSA).

After retiring from NASA, Dunbar became president and CEO of The Museum of Flight in Seattle, where she established a new Space Gallery and expanded its K-12 educational offerings.  

The Violet Lumley Rau Outstanding Alumni awards will be presented to one undergraduate and one graduate alumni during the commencement ceremony.

The graduate alumni award recipient is Kevin Chase. He graduated from Heritage University at Columbia Basin College in 1993 with a Master of Education with a concentration in Education Administration (Principal).

Chase, a Sunnyside High School graduate, is superintendent of the Grandview School District. Starting July 1, he will be the Superintendent for Educational Service District No. 105.

From the day he graduated, Chase has continued to work closely with Heritage University and the College of Education. Each year he welcomes students from Heritage who are serving as student teacher and administrative interns.

Chase is a district coordinator for WE Day and volunteers with the Yakima Valley Fair and Rodeo, as well as United Way.

The undergraduate recipient is Miguel Juarez. Juarez, who graduated from Heritage University at Columbia Basin College in 2002 with a Bachelor of Social Work.

After graduating, he attended Eastern Washington University and earned his Master of Social Work. Juarez currently serves as a professor for Heritage University at Columbia Basin College.

Heritage will announce recipients of the Board of Directors’ Academic Excellence Award and the President’s Council Student Award of Distinction during the ceremony.

The Yakima Valley Sundome is located at 1301 South Fair Ave. in Yakima.

Parking is free.


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