More than 500 students and employees at Dalhousie University in Halifax crammed into an auditorium on Monday to hear an inspirational speech from retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield.
Hadfield's visit to the university was the reward for a successful Movember campaign. Dalhousie students raised $93,566 toward prostate cancer research in November, winning the Canada-wide Big Moustache On Campus challenge.
"Cancer was affecting my family and so I thought it would be a good way to get involved," said Mike Wilkes, who raised $7,595 — more than any other student at Dalhousie.
"It's kind of grown over the years."
Wilkes said Hadfield's pledge to visit the winning school was his main motivation to boosting fundraising efforts. He said the astronaut's own facial hair served as inspiration.
"He's rocked a mean moustache whether he's been in space or on land and been inspiring everybody that he speaks with," said Wilkes, a fourth-year commerce student who's raised money every November since he started university.
Photos and videos from Hadfield's time in orbit kept his presentation buzzing along, but the crux of his speech was to inspire students.
"Stuff goes wrong, things break," Hadfield told students. "As you leave school, visualizing success is OK, but visualizing failure is way more useful."
It was a lesson that resonated with Wilkes.
"A lot of people visualize success and sort of rely on luck to get there. He goes through everything that could possibly go wrong," he said.
Hadfield may be back on Earth, but he has big plans to keep moving in new directions.
"Constantly be learning things. Constantly try and understand things better. You know I'm just so excited now because I'm not all wrapped up flying space ships, I have time maybe to learn some new stuff," Hadfield told reporters.
"I'm studying a lot about … the climate changes in Canada. There's a lot of complaints but not many answers. We need to get the answers through a fundamental, scientific understanding."
Hadfield's plan for himself echoes his advice to students: "Be productive, increase your basic skill level and then try and apply it to all the problems that are facing you. And stay busy."