Bryan J. DeBates is the 2018 NSU Distinguished Alumnus for the Millicent Atkins School of Education.
DeBates, who works for the Space Foundation as vice president of education, graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Northern in 1993. While at Northern, DeBates played football earning First Team All-Conference honors as a free safety, was named an NAIA Division I All-America Scholar-Athlete and played on two conference championship teams in 1990 and 1992. He was also on the track team, served as president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and was a Gypsy Day royalty finalist. He earned a master’s degree with honors in Space Science Education Leadership from Regis University, Denver, in 2006.
“My goal when I left Northern was to make a difference in the world. The skills I learned from going to school here went well beyond just an education and has allowed me to do that,” DeBates said. “What many students going to school here don’t yet realize, is that you will get so much more at Northern than just an education and a diploma. You will learn life skills that will allow you to succeed through the toughest situations and will truly allow you to change the world.”
In his Space Foundation position, DeBates administers the development and implementation of the Space Foundation's global education programs that support science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) education. This includes establishing project goals and developing education programs to support the efforts of classroom educators and Space Foundation education partners.
As vice president, DeBates directs the Space Foundation's education programs, including the popular Discover the Universe field trips and the Space in the Community outreach program. He oversees the Space Foundation's Discovery Center space museum and education center in Colorado Springs, and its education labs. He also ensures the programs follow the Space Foundation's mission to inspire, educate, connect, and advocate for the global space community.
Prior to starting his position at the Space Foundation in 2006, DeBates taught fifth grade at Timberwilde Elementary in San Antonio, Texas, and Title I math and reading at Ipswich Elementary in Ipswich, S.D.
DeBates has been honored for his achievements in education through numerous awards, including being named the 2014 recipient of the prestigious Frank J. Malina Astronautics Medal presented by the International Astronautical Federation, Time Warner Cable's National Crystal Apple Award, the Air Force Association's Alamo Chapter Teacher of the Year, the Air Force Association’s Christa McAuliffe Memorial Award and the Colorado Medal of Merit. He was selected by Texas A&M as a recipient of the Educator's Shape the Future Award and was cited in the U.S. Congressional Record for his contributions to education.