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Astronaut, State Senator to address graduates at UT Pan American commencement ceremonies Dec. 19
Posted: 12/02/1998
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An astronaut and a state senator are the two scheduled speakers for The University of Texas-Pan American's three commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 19, in the Fieldhouse.

Carlos Noriega, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps whose most recent trip into space was in May 1997, will address graduates of the Colleges of Arts and Humanities, Health Sciences and Human Services, and Social and Behavioral Sciences at 11 a.m., and graduates of the Colleges of Science and Engineering and Business Administration at 2 p.m.

State Sen. Carlos F. Truan, Dean of the Texas Senate, will speak to College of Education graduates at the 5 p.m. ceremony.

Lt. Col. Noriega most recently served as a mission specialist on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's sixth Shuttle mission to rendezvous and dock with the Russian Space Station Mir. During the nine-day mission aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, he logged more than 221 hours in space, traveling 3.6 million miles in 144 orbits of the earth. He holds master of science degrees in computer science and in space systems operations, both from the Naval Postgraduate School. He was selected for NASA training in December 1994.

He is next scheduled to serve on the crew of STS-97, the NASA designation for the fourth Space Shuttle mission to carry hardware to space for the assembly of the International Space Station. Lt. Col. Noriega is scheduled to conduct two space walks on the mission, which is scheduled to launch in August 1999.

Sen. Truan has been in the Texas Legislature for 28 years. He was elected to the Senate in 1976 after four terms in the Texas House of Representatives. In the 75th Legislature, Truan chaired the Committee on International Relations, Trade and Technology and was vice chairman of the Finance Committee, the Administration Committee and the Subcommittee on Water. He also was a member of the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee of the Whole on Legislative and Congressional Redistricting.

Sen. Truan created the Childhood Lead Registry in 1993 and expanded its funding in the 1995 session. He established the Birth Defects Registry and secured $1 million for its expansion in 1995. In the 73rd Legislature, he chaired the conference committee that provided an unprecedented $241 million for construction and renovation projects in South Texas universities. In the 70th Legislature, he was instrumental in merging South Texas and border universities with the Texas A&M and University of Texas Systems.

A total of 1,125 candidates for bachelor's and master's degrees will be eligible to participate in UTPA's three commencement ceremonies. The December ceremonies include both August and December graduates.

A total of 736 December candidates, 627 for bachelor's and 109 for master's degrees, and 389 August candidates, 305 for bachelor's and 84 for master's, will be eligible to march in the ceremonies.