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A beloved American icon, Neil Armstrong, passed away on August 25, 2012, due to complications from heart surgery. He was 82. As the first man to walk on the moon in 1969, Mr. Armstrong described his first steps as a “giant leap for all mankind.” As he was a largely private person despite being admired by millions around the world, we’d thought we’d like to showcase some inspiring facts about the American Icon.

1. Neil Armstrong came to Purdue in the fall of 1947, during a decade in American history when fewer than 1 in 4 Americans completed high school, and fewer than 1 in 20 Americans went to college.

in honor of neil armstrong 10 inspiring facts about the american icon

2. Mr. Armstrong was only the second person in his family to attend college.

in honor of neil armstrong 10 inspiring facts about the american icon

3. He was accepted into Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but chose not to go.

The only engineer he knew (his father’s friend) dissuaded him from going to MIT, telling him that it was not necessary to go all the way to Massachusetts for a good education.

Purdue University Students Speak Out On Passing Of Neil Armstrong

4. He started taking flying lessons at an airport near his hometown when he was 15 years old.

He worked a number of jobs at the airport and in town in order to pay for the lessons.

5. He became a licensed pilot on his 16th birthday.

He was legally able to fly a plane before he got a driver’s license or even graduated from high school! Now that is an achievement that could get a person into college today.

6. His college tuition was paid for under the Holloway Plan.

The Holloway Plan is a military scholarship which successful applicants committed to 2 years of study, followed by 3 years of service in the U.S. Navy, followed by a final 2 years of study.

7. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1955.

His earned average grades during his undergraduate days at Perdue, with a GPA that rose and fell during his eight semesters at school. This should inspire students to realize that their GPA does not have to dictate their success in life. (I feel the need to say this, as I know far too many students that feel this way.)

8. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

in honor of neil armstrong 10 inspiring facts about the american icon

9. He earned his Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1970.

Mr. Armstrong also received honorary doctorates from a number of universities after.

10. Despite being one of the most well-known people in the world, Neil Armstrong has always chosen to remain private and avoided the limelight and media.

“I am, and ever will be, a white socks, pocket-protector nerdy engineer–born under the law of thermodynamics, steeped in the steam tables, in love with free-flow dynamics, transformed by Laplace, and propelled by compressible flow.” – Neil Armstrong