First woman to pilot, command American spacecraft speaks at Welty Gala

Eileen Collins said she dreamed of becoming a pilot at a young age

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – The first woman to pilot and command an American spacecraft was the featured speaker for Mississippi University for Women’s 2023 Welty Gala.

Eileen Collins spoke on October 20 at the Trotter Convention Center in downtown Columbus.

Collins said she dreamed of becoming a pilot at a young age.

Now that she has realized her dreams of being both a pilot and an astronaut, Collins has a new dream: that someday people will discover new ways to fly higher, faster, and farther, and that someday we will travel beyond our solar system.

“It’s important for young people – boys and girls – to see people like me that have in my case gone to space,” Collins said. “For me, it was a dream come true, and I was able to get there despite all the roadblocks. So, I think it’s important that I share my story, as well as the problems I had or the mistakes I made along the way so people can see to not give up when you have a dream you want to achieve, but also have back-up plans because sometimes not everything happens the way you hope that it will.”

The Welty Gala raises money for scholarships at Mississippi University for Women.

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