Retired Astronaut Linda Godwin Keynotes First-Ever Missouri STEM Event for 7th Grade Girls


Dr. Linda Godwin, a retired U.S. astronaut, will give the keynote address at Missouri’s first-ever statewide gathering for 7th grade girls focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The event was created by college and career consultants through the Department’s Office of College and Career Readiness. It will be held March 23 at Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T). Dr. Godwin will wrap up the day’s activities with her keynote.

“The science and math courses I took in school stimulated my interest in science, eventually leading me to choose to study physics in college and graduate school. This education opened doors for my future career as an astronaut,” said Dr. Godwin. “But regardless of which career one chooses, STEM courses are for everyone. They teach reasoning, logic and explain the world around us. I always encourage girls to include STEM in their studies knowing they will find confidence in realizing they can choose to do almost anything.”

A native of Jackson, Mo., Dr. Godwin earned her degree in mathematics and physics at Southeast Missouri State University. She attained her master’s degree and a doctorate in physics at the University of Missouri, where she also taught physics to undergraduate students and conducted research.

Dr. Godwin joined NASA in 1980 in the Payload Operations division. Five years later, she was accepted as an astronaut candidate. She has flown on four space missions, one of which included docking to the Russian Mir Space Station. Her last mission was a shuttle docking flight to the International Space Station. Dr. Godwin made two space walks during her total of 38 days in space. She retired from NASA in 2010 and is currently a physics professor at the University of Missouri.

In organizing this event, the Department’s college and career consultants worked with instructors from Missouri S&T and industry representatives to lead 450 girls from across Missouri in engineering and mathematics activities. The girls were nominated by their school counselors or teachers in STEM fields and have expressed their interest in STEM fields through the career-interest survey in Missouri Connections.

“We are pleased that these students are able to hear from Dr. Godwin, an inspiring role model,” said Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. “Early exposure to exciting career opportunities in the STEM fields can spark interest in developing skills crucial to the success of the next generation of innovators.”

Ensuring that all students graduate ready for college and career is one of the primary goals of Missouri’s Top 10 by 20 initiative, an effort to improve student performance to rank among the top 10 states in the country by 2020.