Albion College’s first ‘Brit in Space’ to deliver the 2023 Commencement address

April 14, 2023

Josh Cassada wearing NASA flight suit coveralls stands with his arms crossed. Behind him a presentation on the International Space Station can be seen.

We have all heard the saying, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step.” Most of us have already taken many first steps in our journeys. Our actual first steps. The first step on the bus to kindergarten. The first step into the locker room in high school. The first step at Orientation here at Albion. And now, some of us are poised to take another — the first step beyond graduation.

Sometimes one first step, choosing the right college, can be one of the most daunting steps. After all, it sets the path for all the rest of the steps on the way through life. It might even be the step that sets a course to the stars.

This year’s commencement speaker knows this all too well. Josh Cassada, ’95, Albion College’s first astronaut, will be the keynote speaker on the Quad at the 2023 Commencement Ceremony at 1 p.m., April 29.

A large group of students watch the launch from the Science Atrium.

Students watch the launch of Crew-5 from the Science Complex Atrium.

Cassada returned to Earth after spending 157 days aboard the International Space Station. He was the pilot of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission and conducted three spacewalks that totaled 21 hours. During its mission, the crew contributed to hundreds of experiments and technology demonstrations, including cardiovascular health, bioprinting and fluid behavior in microgravity, to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and to benefit life on Earth.

But before he was the first Brit in Space, Cassada had to take the first step and decide where to study for his undergraduate degree. While he came to Michigan from a high school in Minnesota larger than Albion College, Cassada said he chose to be a Brit because he felt a connection.

Once here, Josh took steps to develop friendships with faculty, who, in turn, helped him realize much more than a degree. They helped him achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut.

Josh has often spoken about how Albion College helped him take steps to develop his ‘academic courage.’ At Albion College, Josh developed the courage to dream and explore the possibilities only a liberal arts education can provide.

We all look forward to seeing the Class of 2023 at graduation and listening together to Josh’s powerful message. And then, we will watch as each class member takes their next first step — to infinity and beyond (in purple and gold, of course).






CREW-5 gets ready to depart