Women have pioneered alongside their male counterparts since the dawn of time. What a dull world we would have if there were truly only one perspective to shape life as we know it.
Women have also had a hand in shaping the way we see and understand outer space. Many notable women explorers have traveled among the stars, with one in particular who had to face many challenges to get there.
Mae Jemison was born in Alabama and raised in Chicago during the 1960s. In a particularly heated social climate, dreams only seemed to go so far for people who looked like Mae. Hearing about other people’s constant fears and doubts never stopped Mae from having her head just above the clouds, where she could stay in touch with her big, bold dreams.
She received her college education from Stanford University, where she studied chemical engineering at just 16 years old. For a young black woman in the 1970s, such a feat was incredible in itself, proving to Mae that she could truly do anything.
After completing several community-based health initiatives after graduating college, Mae Jemison applied to NASA twice. In 1987, just 4 years after Sally Ride became the first American woman and third woman to travel to space, Mae was picked out of a pool of 2,000+ applicants to join NASA’s space exploration team. After several years of astronaut training, Mae Jemison took her first trip to space in 1992, making history as the first Black woman in space.
Since completing her historical debut in outer space, Mae Jemison has continued to stay pretty down to earth. She has since taught at several universities such as Dartmouth College and Cornell University. Ms. Jemison also launched a space and science camp for kids, called The Earth We Share, lasting well into the mid-2000s. She also launched a non-profit in honor of her mother, Dorothy Jemison, specializing in science, space, and youth engagement. Currently, Mae advises several companies and organizations to guide scientific improvements as well as DEI initiatives.
With a long-time love for science and dance, Mae was able to marry her innate talents with her desire for exploration. Her mother was sure to guide her to continue taking her education seriously while making time and space to fulfill her passions as well.
Mae Jemison is a testament to women and girls everywhere; we don’t have to choose just one passion to pursue to claim our victory in life. The world becomes an even brighter place when we make room for all of the things that inspire and bring us joy.