Astronaut brings message of unity to BSU assembly

By Corlan Joubert ’20 with AJ Cassapo ’19, James Mueller ’19, Adian Guevara ’20, and Trey Duncan ’21

In recognition of Black History Month, Victor Glover, a US Navy Commander and NASA Astronaut, spoke to the students of Strake Jesuit at the annual Strake Jesuit Black Student Union (BSU) assembly on Wednesday, February 20. Commander Glover shared various life experiences with the students to emphasize how important unity is to promote among people of different races.

The assembly opened with members of the BSU speaking individually about their experiences at Strake Jesuit as young African American men. They shared their challenges at Strake Jesuit, which included being asked by other students for permission to use the n-word, being looked at in history class whenever the topic of slavery comes up, and being praised for breaking stereotypes such as being successful in debate rather than in sports.

Commander Glover then addressed the students, telling the stories of his life, such as coming from parents who did not attend college. However, a fifth-grade teacher who recognized Commander Victor’s potential pulled him aside to tell him he would make a good engineer. Commander Glover looks back on this impact conversation shaped his future by encouraging him to strive for more.

In fact, after high school, Commander Glover enrolled at California Polytechnic State University to study engineering.

While there, he had a run in with the law. As he was exiting a KMart, he was greeted by police officers pointing guns at him and his friend. After the mix-up was resolved, he found out that a fellow officer had recently been killed by a black man. Because of Commander Glover’s own skin color, he became a suspect. That day, Commander Glover said, showed him both sides of the controversy, one involving a police officer seeking justice for a lost colleague, and the other involving the struggles of African Americans when it comes to being wrongly suspected of committing crimes.

While enrolled at Cal Poly, Commander Glover also became active in opposing the effects of Proposition 209, passed 1996, which made it illegal to use affirmative action in admissions for public universities and colleges in California. After realizing that he could not change the law, Commander Glover decided he would come up with a program to prepare underprivileged students of color to be competitive in admissions to California universities. This program was known as Pathway to Success.

After college, Commander Glover joined the Navy and entered flight school in Pensacola Florida. He and his fellow pilots in training would say, “Always try to be the green man,” which means to be the example to others.

Commander Glover praised the military and NASA for emphasizing teamwork to achieve a common goal. This practice, he explained, promoted unity and cohesiveness between all members of military regardless of any element of their background, such as race. Commander Glover regards this aspect of the military as a model for how the larger American culture should function.

After serving in the military, Commander Glover joined the astronaut program at the NASA. He has participated in training with pilots of many different backgrounds and enjoyed camaraderie with them. He now collaborates with Space X.

“Division is the greatest problem that our society faces, and the solution to this problem is unity,” Commander Glover said.

About the assembly, BSU member Caleb Cavanaugh commented, “We felt Commander Glover was a really good example of a highly achieved black man. We liked that he was able to reach out to us and share his experiences of being black in a predominately white society.”