Astronaut, Gonzaga Prep alum Anne McClain encourages students to chase their biggest dreams

The last time she interacted with the Bullpups was in May, when she talked to them from space. Thursday, astronaut and Spokane native Anne McClain spent some time – in person – at her alma mater.

Only a couple hundred NASA astronauts have been in outer space. McClain is one of them. Gonzaga Prep told 4 News Now, they hope an opportunity like this will inspire their students to go after their biggest dreams, whether that’s here on Earth or outer space.

It’s interesting, trying to get into the mind of a high schooler. You wonder if they leave thinking, “Wow, what a life living on a space station.” Or if you’re one of the students 4 News Now talked to, you leave thinking, “Wow, I can achieve my dreams just like her.”

“I am loved.”

I am proud of myself.”

“I am brave.”

“I can do hard things.”

It’s a short, simple, but powerful affirmation Lieutenant Colonel Anne McClain drove home.

“Twenty years ago, I was on the same starting line as you are. I was no different than any of you, I hadn’t done anything special that would make anyone think I was destined for any high achievement. I was Anne McClain, Gonzaga Prep, Class of 1997,” Lt. Col. McClain said.

There was a time McClain sat right where these students sit.

“I cannot even imagine the dreams and the goals in this gym today,” Lt. Col. McClain said.

She’s right. These kids – teenagers, rather – want to take on the world.

“It’s led me to want to become a doctor someday and help others, and go into that field,” said Mary Kate McHenry, senior at Gonzaga Prep.

“Probably something like genetics or bioengineering,” said Zachary Round, junior at Gonzaga Prep.

But taking on your biggest dreams isn’t always an easy journey.

“There’s so much self-doubt when you’re applying to schools that you think maybe you won’t get into” McHenry said.

Lt. Col. McClain reminded them, there is no dream too big to accomplish.

“Your dreams and your goals are not going to come to you. You have to go to them,” Lt. Col. McClain said.

I am loved.

I am proud of myself.

“We can all overcome any fear that we have, any self-doubt,” McHenry said.

I am brave.

“Gave me faith that if I can believe in myself, I can do it. It’s really cool to see that her self belief led her to her accomplishments,” McHenry said.

“Sometimes it’s tough, and school gets tough, and there’s a lot of work,” Round said.

I can do hard things.

“She reminded us today, that you just got to work through those challenges and just keep on trucking,” Round said.

“Being brave and overcoming that fear, taking that risk. And if she didn’t do that, she wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all that she’s accomplished. To be able to stand here today and tell us that we can do the same,” McHenry said.

It’s a short, simple, and easy affirmation. One that reminds us all, nothing is impossible. Dreams can go beyond the four walls of your high school. Sometimes, they can reach outer space.

Gonzaga Prep told 4 News Now, nearly 1,000 people attended Thursday morning’s assembly, and they hosted one more assembly for other Spokane schools, so they’d also have the same opportunity.