To the stars: Astronaut O’Hara

Loral O'Hara

When she graduated from more than two years of basic training and earned her silver astronaut pin at the Johnson Space Center, Loral O’Hara officially became the fourth Jayhawk astronaut and is now among the small group of candidates vying to become the first woman to walk on the moon.

NASA’s Artemis program is expected to launch its first moon-landing mission in 2024; at the Jan. 10 ceremony in Houston, Administrator Jim Bridenstine emphasized that women will be among the crew.

Given her recent graduation, it’s unlikely O’Hara would vault into a seat on the first moon mission since Apollo 17—during which command module pilot Ron Evans, e’55, became the last human to orbit the moon alone and one of only three astronauts to conduct a deep-space spacewalk.

None of that concerns O’Hara, who emphasizes that she’s dedicated to supporting her classmates and the entire astronaut office, no matter the assignment.

“With the [astronaut] office these days, and my class in particular, the environment is not competitive at all,” O’Hara told Kansas Alumni in an exclusive interview shortly after her graduation. “It’s so cooperative. It was a really cool and unique experience going through that basic training with them and learning how to be a really good team. I’ve never really had that experience.”

Expanded O’Hara coverage is available here, as is Kansas Alumni’s reporting on O’Hara’s 2017 selection for astronaut training.

–Chris Lazzarino


Update: Stresses of identity in flux 

Scott Reinardy

When discussing Journalism’s Lost Generation, a 2016 book for which he surveyed thousands of journalists about the crucibles of layoffs, marginalization and ridicule, Professor Scott Reinardy told Kansas Alumni, “Journalists are under siege.”

His next step was to interview hundreds of former journalists to gauge their sense of the print landscape as well as their personal well-being. Reinardy’s study, co-written with an Australian colleague, found that 36% of respondents still identify as journalists even after leaving the profession.

“When you’re committed to the idea that you are a journalist, that’s who you are,” Reinardy says, “and when you’re told you’re not going to do that anymore, it takes a real part of you.”

Reinardy also found that 39% of study participants reported emotional difficulties, including depression, yet 24% said they felt relieved to leave the field and were ready for new opportunities.

–Chris Lazzarino


Class credit: ROTC honors

ROTC cadets Alyssa Sharp, Jake Murray and Alden Vogel earned national distinction during training and exchange programs in 2019.
ROTC cadets Alyssa Sharp, Jake Murray and Alden Vogel earned national distinction during training and exchange programs in 2019. 

Three students in KU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps distinguished themselves during the past year with achievements that place them among America’s ROTC elite.

Midshipman 1st Class Alyssa Sharp was one of only 15 midshipmen in the nation selected to participate in a Foreign Exchange Cruise with the Japanese Navy. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, senior in economics and African-African American studies spent two weeks aboard the Japanese ship Shimakaze.  

Midshipman Jake Murray finished third in the nation at the Conning Officer Virtual Environment Competition, which tests students’ ability to drive and handle ships under various simulator scenarios. The senior from Lake Zurich, Illinois, is majoring in supply chain management.

Army ROTC Cadet Alden Vogel graduated at the top of his cycle at Advanced Camp, a month-long training event that tests cadets’ leadership skills. The Overland Park senior in economics earned the distinguished RECONDO Badge, which is awarded to less than 3% of trainees, for exceeding standards in physical fitness, navigation, marksmanship, first aid and other essential field skills. 

KU is one of just 53 universities that have all three service ROTC programs on one campus. Since the programs began at KU, nearly 3,000 ROTC graduates have gone on to serve the nation.

–Steven Hill


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