Former astronaut and Senator John H. Glenn, Jr. was honored at the 139th Ohio Northern University undergraduate commencement last Sunday. He was awarded an honorary doctorate of public service for his work.

"Most of my life has been dedicated to public service," Glenn said in a pre-ceremony interview. Not only as a government official, but he views his 23-year career in the Marines as service to the public as well, having served in WWII and the Korean War. Glenn said that he even dropped out of college in his junior year to begin his military career.

He noted that each phase of his life and working career contained levels of public service. "I was proud to participate in every one of them. It's difficult to compare," Glenn said.

"Public service is basically representing other people," he continued. "You get a lot of satisfaction out of that."

"Every graduate, every person in this country has a responsibility to be interested in government and politics," Glenn. "Our country depends on it. This country puts an emphasis on every single individual. They can make what they want out of themselves."

Being involved doesn't mean having to run for public office, but having ideas to believe in and supporting candidates is important.

Glenn did not hesitate to share his opinion on the future of the space shuttle program, saying "we need to be keeping the shuttle flying," Glenn stressed. "It's due to be phased out at the end of this year but I want to see us keep it going. It's the only heavy-lift vehicle we have." The cost of transporting astronauts to the U.S. space station would be $55.8 million per person, and the U.S. would have to rely on the Russians for the ride. "We're going to spend almost as much taking people back and forth paying the Russians as we would keeping the space shuttle going."

His suggestion is to concentrate on the space station, and use it for more research. "That's what I always think we should have been doing," he concluded. "Make the best use out of the $100 billion investment we have in that international space station."

Glenn and his wife Annie spend time teaching at The Ohio State University in Columbus in the Glenn School of Public Affairs. The program is expanding rapidly and this fall, a full undergraduate program, as well as graduate and masters degrees will be offered. They also like to travel, and spend some time in Washington, DC as well.

Local ONU graduates who received their degrees at the 139th undergraduate commencement ceremony included:

College of Pharmacy

Doctor of Pharmacy

Rebecca Noel Heckman of Kenton; Kenneth Dale Launder of Forest (Distinction); Bethany Lance Murphy of Ada (Honors Program, High Distinction, minor in Spanish).

College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Arts

Matthew Steven Byal of Dunkirk, International Studies with a minor in Geography/Area Studies; John Mark Flower of Ada, Sport Management; Benjamin Robert Kretz of Roundhead, Social Studies and History; Patrick Alan Massara of Forest, Sport Management; Katelyn Marie Marquart of Dunkirk, Communication Arts with two minors in Professional and Organizational Communication and Public Relations; Casey Danielle Simon of Ada, Communication Arts with a minor in Public Relations; Beth Ann Stewart of Ada, Communication Arts with a minor in Organizational Communication.

Bachelor of Music

Zachary Allen Voll of Ada, Music Education (Distinction).

Bachelor of Science

Caleb Michael Bingham of Lafayette, Manufacturing Technology; Nicholas Jacob Dunn of Harrod, Chemistry with a minor in American Chemical Society Certified Physics (High Distinction); Katie Jo Elsass of Lafayette, Forensic Biology with two minors in Chemistry and Biochemistry (Distinction); Jesse Paul Henry of Kenton, Manufacturing Technology; Adam Russel Spencer of Harrod, Technology with a minor in Construction Operations; Benjamin Alexander Staley of Ada, Athletic Training; Lee Nathaniel Stuart of Ada, Construction Management; Brandon Anthony Vieira of Ada, Biology.

BS in Nursing

Jennifer Lynn Hiester of Ada (High Distinction) and Daniel Bryan Lawrence of Alger (High Distinction).

BS in Civil Engineering

Justin L. Gieseler of Alger, Computer Engineering with a minor in Mathematics.

BS in Mechanical Engineering

Brandon M. Heyman of Forest, Mechanical Engineering.

College of Business Administration

BS in Business Administration

Emily Elizabeth Cingolani of Ada, Accounting; Matthew Allan Long of Ada, Accounting; Ashley Nichole Ridgeway of Ada, Accounting; Michael Lee Ridgeway of Dunkirk, Accounting; Kayla Marie Shadley of Alger, Accounting.