Ithaca, N.Y. — Cornell graduate Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly will speak at Cornell’s Convocation during Commencement Weekend this May.

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Giffords, a former Congresswoman from Arizona, survived an assassination attempt in 2011. Kelly is an astronaut and has spent more than 50 days in orbit.

The news was first reported by the Cornell Daily Sun. Commencement is May 23.

Here’s a statement from Cornell announcing the event:

Gabrielle Giffords, M.R.P. ’96, and her husband, Mark Kelly, will be the speakers at Cornell’s Senior Convocation May 23, during Commencement Weekend.

Rachel Gerber ’15, chair of the 2015 Convocation Committee, said, “Since this is Cornell’s sesquicentennial year, the committee – a compilation of Student Assembly representatives, Class Council members and at-large delegates – has found it fitting to chose an alumna of this university who not only embodies the Big Red spirit, but also a passion and determination that is unmatched.”

In 2006 Giffords was elected a congresswoman from Arizona’s 8th District. She served from 2007 until her resignation in January 2012 following an attempted assassination at a supermarket in Tucson in January 2011. The only female elected official in the history of the United States to become the target of an assassination attempt, Giffords was just the third woman to be elected to Congress from the state of Arizona. She also served in the Arizona House of Representatives and Senate and was the CEO of her family’s business. In March 2014, Fortune magazine named Giffords one of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders.”

Kelly is a retired American astronaut and U.S. Navy captain. He was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot and flew 39 combat missions over Iraq and Kuwait during the first Gulf War. Kelly has spent more than 50 days in orbit and was commander of space shuttle Endeavour in May 2011 on its final flight. During that mission, Giffords was recovering at a hospital in Houston, Texas. In 2011 Kelly was featured on the cover of Esquire magazine and honored as one of the “Americans of the Year.”


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.