~ Photo above, from left: Associate Dean Honora Chapman, Capt. Scott Kelly and Will Chapman

Last night, Ret. U.S. Navy Captain Scott Kelly appeared in Fresno as the featured speaker kicking off this year’s season of the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall lecture series.

As a member of the Town Hall board, Honora Chapman, the associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, had the pleasure of introducing Kelly to the audience at the William Saroyan Theatre:

“With our bold leaders President Joseph Castro and Provost Lynnette Zelezny, as well as the kind support of Dean Scott Moore in the Division of Continuing and Global Education, Dean Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval and I are thrilled that Fresno State has sponsored tonight’s lecture, since Capt. Scott Kelly exemplifies our College of Arts and Humanities’ values of creativity, analysis, innovation and inspiration, as well as lifelong learning.”

During his presentation, Kelly talked of how his path in life changed when, early in his college career, he was captivated by Tom Wolfe’s 1979 book, “The Right Stuff.”

Kelly was so moved by Wolfe’s story of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he switched his major to engineering and went on to become a U.S. Navy fighter pilot and record-breaking astronaut. During a nearly year-long mission on the International Space Station, Kelly spent 340 consecutive days in space.

Chapman was delighted, in the course of Kelly’s engaging presentation about his life, to find a tie back to the transformative power of the written word, which is a key value of the arts and humanities — the capacity of a book, a musical score or a philosophy lecture to inspire and ultimately transform a life.