Jonny Kim, a former Navy SEAL and a Harvard-trained doctor, becomes a NASA astronaut


“Jonny, you are a Navy SEAL with a degree from Harvard Medical School,” said Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) During the graduation ceremony held Friday at the Johnson Space Center. “That’s just ridiculous! I mean, he can kill you and then return your life. And do it all in space.”

Or, as a headline in Task & Purpose says: “SEAL, Doctor, Astronaut – Navy Lieutenant Jonny Kim achieves your childhood dreams so you don’t have to.”

Kim is a first-generation American Korean, born in Los Angeles to parents who emigrated to the United States from South Korea in search of a better future for their children. Despite the achievements to come, he struggled with insecurity as he grew up, according to a 2017 profile at the Harvard Gazette.

He had difficulties in school and, as his graduation from Santa Monica High approached in the spring of 2002, he decided that only a bold move could change things. Then he enlisted in the Navy as a sailor. He asked a recruiter if he could become a member of one of the SEAL teams and was only promised that he could try. Only the opportunity was enough, the Gazette reported.

“I didn’t like the person I was growing up in,” Kim told the newspaper. “I needed to find myself and my identity. And for me, getting out of my comfort zone, getting away from the people I grew up with and finding adventures, that was my odyssey, and it was the best decision I made. ”

SEAL’s exhausting training process caused him new doubts. He thought about quitting during the “week of hell,” an almost continuous training period that all candidates must complete.

Instead, he made the cut for the elite team and went on to serve as a combat doctor, sniper, navigator and leading man in more than 100 combat operations in two deployments in the Middle East, according to NASA. He was awarded a silver star and a bronze star along the way.

It was during his time in Iraq that Kim decided that he wanted to be a doctor. He was serving as a doctor one day in 2006 when two of his close friends were shot, the Gazette reported. Kim treated one of them, who had a severe wound to the face. Neither would survive.

“It was one of the worst feelings of helplessness,” Kim said, according to the newspaper. “There wasn’t much I could do, just make sure your bleeding didn’t block your airways, making sure I was well positioned.” I needed a surgeon. I needed a doctor and I finally got it, but … that feeling of helplessness was very deep for me. “

He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of San Diego in 2012 and his doctorate in Harvard medicine in 2016. He spent a year in a residence at Massachusetts General Hospital when he learned that he had been selected from a group of 18,000 applicants. Become a NASA astronaut.

The call came while I was shopping.

“I think my heart was racing 100 beats per second, and I tried not to lose my composure in the middle of the grocery store,” Kim said in a video published by NASA. “But once I received the news and hung up, I ran to my wife, and I was jumping up and down and telling her we entered.”

His class included 11 NASA candidates and two candidates from the Canadian Space Agency. They completed two years of training, including spacewalks, robotics, International Space Station systems and Russian, to be eligible for spaceflight.

The Artemis program aims to send the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024 and use what they learned there to reach Mars.

“These astronauts could one day walk on the moon as part of the Artemis program,” said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine during graduation. “And perhaps one of them could be among the first humans to walk on Mars.”

During the ceremony, the graduates answered questions from the students at the hearing. When an eighth grade boy asked if they had ever experienced doubts, Kim took the microphone. He said it is “very human to doubt yourself.”

“Everyone in this audience, everyone who looks, is capable of much more than they think they are,” he said.


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