Soaring to new heights
Written by Admin
Payette, an astronaut who has logged over 611 hours in space, was honoured with Balmoral Hall’s Yes We Can Award at a dinner gala on May 3, 2010. Every year, the Yes We Can Award recognizes an exceptional woman who has gained international prominence in her career and acts as a role model to the students of Balmoral Hall, a private girls’ school in Winnipeg.
Originally from Montreal, Payette was selected by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) as one of four astronauts from 5,330 applicants in 1992. Seven years later, she flew on the Space Shuttle Discovery, becoming the first Canadian astronaut to participate in an International Space Station assembly mission and board the Space Station. She later served as chief astronaut for the CSA from 2000 to 2007.
Last summer, Payette visited the Space Station again while serving as flight engineer aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. “It’s like stepping back and looking at a painting or a sculpture,” says Payette on viewing the Earth from space. “You’re there to do something very useful, pushing the frontier of the known world, helping and advancing what we know and building something for research.”
During her speech to the Balmoral Hall students, Payette emphasized the importance of education and how the girls should set out to achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small. “There is absolutely no reason why you can’t accomplish anything you want or set your heart to…with a little effort,” she told the captive audience.
Payette’s words resonated in students like Jacklyn Prendiville. “She is a huge inspiration to all women⎯and not only women, but anyone who has a dream,” she says.
The president and CEO of James Richardson & Sons, Hartley Richardson, who nominated Payette for the award, agrees. “Whoever said the sky is the limit must never have met (Payette),” he says. “(Her) sky knows no boundaries and (she is) a true inspiration to others.”
But despite her many accomplishments, Payette remains modest. “Just to have the privilege to meet these young girls and to have a chance to share my stories is a privilege in itself,” she says.
For more of our interview with Payette - as well as interviews with several Balmoral Hall students - click here.