» LIBERAL ARTS & SCIENCES
Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida native from Miami, has devoted his life to public service.
Nelson attended the University of Florida before continuing his education at Yale University. In 1968, he received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law, and within two years of graduation, he had established a law practice in Melbourne, Florida, and was serving in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Nelson’s political career launched in 1972 when he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives. In 1978, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served six terms. During those terms, Nelson became the chair of the House space subcommittee and began astronaut training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In 1986, he went on a six-day mission as a payload specialist aboard the Columbia space shuttle, making him only the second sitting member of Congress to travel into space after former Sen. Jake Garn of Utah.
Nelson worked as the Florida cabinet treasurer, insurance commissioner and fire marshal before he was elected to the U.S. Senate, where he is currently serving his third term. When he’s not in Washington, D.C., he lives in Orlando, Florida, and enjoys traveling to Amelia Island a few times per year.