WEST ORANGE, NJ -- One of West Orange's favorite astronauts who viewed the human condition from space, and a popular photo blogger who views the human condition on earth, will deliver commencement addresses for Kean University this May.
The highly decorated astronaut and best-selling author, Captain Mark Kelly, will deliver the commencement address at the Nathan Weiss Graduate College Commencement at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Tuesday, May 17 at 7 p.m.
Renowned photographer, digital storyteller and creator of the photo blog Humans of New York, Brandon Stanton will give the commencement address at Kean University’s Undergraduate Commencement at the Prudential Center in Newark, Thursday, May 19 at 8:30 a.m.
Kean University President Dr. Dawood Farahi said of the two speakers, “In very different ways, both have advanced our understanding of the world and each other through their leadership, commitment and curiosity to better understand Earth and its inhabitants.”
“Captain Kelly and Brandon Stanton are inspirations for all of us, most especially our students who are about to launch their careers,” he added.
An American hero raised in West Orange, Kelly has captured the imaginations and hearts of Americans through his adventures in space as well as for his loving support of his wife, former Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, after an assassination attempt.
Kelly began his career as an astronaut in 1996. During his illustrious career with NASA, he spent more than 50 days in space and commanded both the Space Shuttle Discovery and Space Shuttle Endeavour, including its final flight in May 2011. He is one of only two people who have visited the International Space Station on four different occasions.
Kelly continues to contribute to science as a participant in NASA’s unprecedented study of the effects of long-term spaceflight, serving as the on the ground test subject compared to his identical twin brother Scott, an astronaut who spent a year on the International Space Station. Kelly is also a #1 New York Times best-selling author of Gabby: A Story of Courage, Love and Resilience and a founder of World View Enterprises, a company pioneering a new frontier at the edge of space.
Stanton worked as a bond trader in Chicago for three years after graduating from the University of Georgia, before losing his job and heading to New York. In 2010, he launched the Humans of New York (HONY) photo blog, capturing the spirit, the heart and soul of the city through an exhaustive catalogue of photos of 10,000 New Yorkers, along with quotes, captions and short stories about their lives, hopes and dreams. Taken together, these portraits became the subject of a vibrant blog.
HONY is followed by nearly fourteen million people worldwide, who check the blog for daily glimpses into the lives of everyday New Yorkers. It is the fastest growing Arts and Humanities page on Facebook. In 2013, a compilation of HONY stories and pictures became a #1 New York Times bestselling book and Stanton’s third book, HONY: Stories, is a New York Times Best Seller.