Alumni

Travelogue

Chasing SpaceSunday, May 21
CMA Kids Fair 2017 at the Children’s Museum of Art, New York City
It’s a really powerful opportunity for kids around STEAM, the study of science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics. The kids asked a question that often comes up when I visit schools and museums: “What’s food like in space?”

The answer is that astronauts often experience dulled taste buds in space. A lot of times, they’ll use lots of spices and hot sauce to give food flavor, but I never had that problem. Everything tasted normal to me. They also asked if I brought my dogs into space.

Monday, May 22
Catholic Academy of Bridgeport, Connecticut
With stories, I took the kids into space that day. I also told them to believe in themselves and to look for someone in their lives who will be there for them, no matter what.

It was great to be joined by Paul and Anne-Marie Queally (above), both ’86 like me, who live nearby and underwrote my visit with the school kids through their family foundation.

Thursday, May 25
CBS This Morning, New York City
Gayle King is prepared. She had about seven pages of notes and 40 tabs in her copy of my book. She visited me probably three times in the green room, too.

I got a chance to mention that one of the things I took into space with me was my Spider ballcap. Had to get a plug in for the University of Richmond.

Friday, May 26
More New York City
A busy day. I started the morning in Manhattan on Tom Joyner’s radio show. I’ve been on several times before, the first in 2009 when I was on live from space. One of the things that I admire about Tom is that he really gives back to the community.

Later in the day, I went to the Paradise Theater in the Bronx for a program called Science Genius. I was guest judge at a science hip-hop battle, where the kids rapped about science. I was a tough judge, but there were some powerful lyrics.

Monday, June 19
Cannes Film Festival, France
I shared a panel with Common, the performer and producer, during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The panel was hosted by Dyllan McGee, the founder of Makers, a storytelling platform about women trailblazers. It wasn’t a book signing. We were there to tell our stories as two men who support women.

I hadn’t met Common before we saw each other backstage and had a few minutes to talk. He grew up with a single mom who was a teacher, so education was always very important and he was a very good student.

I really enjoyed meeting him. He’s very dialed into issues and is very compassionate.

Saturday, Aug. 5
East Africa
I left on a 10-day trip sponsored by the State Department as a kind of goodwill ambassador. The U.S. embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, provided copies of my book to 50 local kids involved in an embassy book club. I also met with local university students and did interviews on local radio and television.

After two days in Ethiopia, I went to Malawi for WiSci, or Women in Science program. They trained 20 American girls, ages 15 to 18, as experts in STEAM activities to go to Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. I met with them and with the 80 Malawian girls they’ve been working with on STEAM projects. Some had never used a mouse before, but after two weeks, they were coding and using apps.

On Oct. 26, Melvin will give a talk and book signing as part of the Jepson School’s 25th anniversary. Alumni can register early at richmond.edu/homecoming.