Delivering Saturday’s commencement address, Hopkins told students to forge their own path even if it means trying again and again.
He said it took him more than 10 years and four tries to get accepted to NASA’s astronaut training program.
The Air Force colonel and 1991 engineering graduate returned last month from a six-month mission to the International Space Station.
Among other advice, he said, “The size of your paycheck isn’t the measure of your achievement.”
The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports that an estimated 17,000 people attended the ceremony.
Saturday’s commencement was the first one held outdoors in decades. Normally they’re held at the State Farm Center, which is under construction.