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‘Role model in perpetuity:’ Le Moyne College celebrates Epps ahead of space launch

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Carmen Giunta taught at Le Moyne College for 29 years, but he didn’t have to wait long for some remarkable students.

“I started in 1990,” explained Giunta, “and in my first class there, I had Janet Epps, who was a chemistry major.”

A degree in chemistry required his physical chemistry class. Janet’s twin sister, Jeanette, volunteered to take the class.

“Jeanette was a physics major,” said the professor. “It wasn’t required for her.”

“Not exactly an easy elective,’ adding only two students throughout his career took that class voluntarily.

Guinta says the Epps sisters taught him something early about Syracuse’s smaller college.

“I started at Le Moyne having done graduate work at Harvard (so) I had talented students before,” he said. “My first impression was the best students at Le Moyne were as talented… and wonderful human beings.”

After graduating in 1992, Epps earned a Master’s and PhD in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.

Le Moyne College President Linda LeMura says Epps never lost her humble roots. As an active alumna of her alma mater, she’s a member of the Board of Trustees and past commencement speaker.

LeMura said, “She will be a role model for Le Moyne and other young women, regardless of where they go in the STEM field. She’ll be a role model in perpetuity.”

Epps is about to give new meaning to the campus’ nickname “The Heights.”

She’s scheduled to launch into space Friday for a six-month assignment aboard the International Space Station.

Professor Guinta said it’s “not something that was within grasp of anyone that I knew.”

“Going on to advanced degrees, medical school, being successful in their careers, those are things we hope for,” he said. “Many of them achieve it. Astronaut! That’s extra. That’s beyond. That’s extraordinary.”

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