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Stephens College Graduate Wally Funk Rockets Into Space with Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos

Wally Funk, a 1958 graduate of Stephens College, became the oldest woman to go into space this morning. She joined Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and two others on Blue Origin’s first manned flight.

About 50 Stephens College faculty, staff and friends gathered on campus to watch live coverage of the historic event.

“We could not be prouder of Wally as an alum, as somebody who learned to fly here at Stephens College, and then took that dream with her for the rest of her life,” said Stephens College President Dr. Dianne Lynch. Funk was “always determined that this moment would happen and that she was going to make it happen.”

President Dr. Lynch.jpg
Nate Brown

Lynch says Stephens College has a motto: “Women Dream Up.” She recounted how Funk was one of the Mercury 13 – women who were trained to be astronauts in the 1960s – but they were never allowed to join NASA.

“When the flight took off, I thought she did it, she's there, it's happening, her dream is coming true,” said Lynch. “You don't often get to watch somebody's dream come true... and then when they literally crossed the line and went into space, I thought, ‘Okay, she has become an astronaut.’”

Next semester, Lynch will entertain a special guest.

“We've invited Wally to come and speak to our students this fall and she's agreed to come,” said Lynch. [She] will be able to share with our students what it means to be a Stephens woman.”