NEW ORLEANS - She's in a small group.
She's one of the three African American woman who've traveled into space as NASA astronauts.
She's Joan Higginbotham.
WGNO News with a Twist features guy Wild Bill Wood got to chat with her moments before she gave the commencement address at the University of New Orleans 2017 fall graduation.
She also got an honorary degree from UNO.
Joan Higginbotham was a member of the Space Shuttle Discovery mission to the International Space Station in 2006.
What was Joan's job on the Space Shuttle Discovery?
She had the responsibility of running the Space Station Remote Manipulator System.
When did she begin her career with NASA?
It started back in 1987 at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
There, Joan Higginbotham was a payload electrical engineer.
She got one promotion. Then another. And then another.
She got to be part of 53 space shuttle launches while there for nine years.
Then she moved to Houston and the Johnson Space Center.
That's where the really big promotion came.
Joan Higginbotham was picked to be an astronaut by NASA back in 1996.
Then in December 2006, the really big move landed.
Joan Higginbotham and six other astronauts took off in the Space Shuttle Discovery.
They were in space for twelve days working on the International Space Station.
It's the experience she talked to UNO grads about. It's the experience of her lifetime.
So what is Joan Higginbotham up to today?
She's works at UTC Aerospace Systems in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Her job is director of corporate social responsibility.