February 1, 2014 - 8:02pm

Canadian astronaut Dr. Robert Thirsk says he was "humbled' to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Vancouver Island University (VIU) at winter convocation Friday, Jan. 31.

Thirsk is well known throughout Canada and the world for his contributions to global space exploration, and for fostering educational opportunities for Canadian students and educators. He became the first Canadian astronaut to fly on a long-duration expedition aboard the International Space Station, and spent 188 days living and working in space.

Prior to Friday's convocation ceremony, Thirsk visited VIU's Nanaimo campus where he met with students, staff and faculty and discussed his experiences in space.

Thirsk was inspired to pursue a career as an astronaut after his grade 3 teacher in Powell River, Shirley Cole, played a radio broadcast in her classroom of astronaut John Glenn.

Cole was on hand at the Port Theatre Friday to watch proudly as Thirsk received his Honorary Doctorate.

For more on the story, see the CTV news clip at

Listen to a CBC "On the Island" interview with Thirsk at

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