Dr. Mae Jemison

The sky is the limit, well, sort of for Mae.

About Mae and what she accomplished.

Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African-American female in outer space. On June 4, 1987, she became the first African-American woman to be admitted into the astronaut training program. After more than a year of training, she became the first African-American female astronaut, earning the title of science mission specialist, a job that would make her responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle.

On September 12, 1992, she finally flew into space with six other astronauts on the Endeavour on mission STS47, and became what inspired many people, including me; the first African-American woman in space. In appreciation of her accomplishments, Jemison has received several awards and honorary doctorates.

"Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination."

Growing Up

Mae Carol Jemison was born on the 17th of October, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. In 1959, when she was only three, Mae and her family moved to Chicago, Illinois for better education.
During her time at Morgan Park High School, Mae spent lots of time in her library researching and reading all about topics on science, but mostly astronomy. When she was little, she was very interested in space travel. However, she became interested in engineering and wanted to pursue a career in it. She did very well in school, and even attended the Chicago Public School System and achieved honors in math and science. Although she had lots of support from her friends and family, teachers and school staff discouraged her from pursuing an education in science.

She attended Stanford University when she was 16 and earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and African American Studies. She went on to receive her medical degree from Cornell University and served two years in the Peace Corps in West Africa as a staff physician. Her responsibilities there were to manage the health care delivery system for the Peace Corps and the U.S. Embassy in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Her background includes research in nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, reproductive biology, and a Hepatitis B and rabies vaccine.

In the aftermath of the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy, Mae left her private medical practice in Los Angeles and applied to become an astronaut candidate. She was one of 15 chosen from a pool of 2,000 applicants in 1988. She completed the intensive training, eventually being assigned to STS-47, a Spacelab Life Sciences mission. On this eight-day flight, Mae served as a science mission specialist and as I mentioned before in the first text, carried out experiments on the effects of space motion sickness, frog fertilization in space, and bone loss during spaceflight.

"What we find is that if you have a goal that is very, very far out, and you approach it in little steps, you start to get there faster. Your mind opens up to the possibilities."

What else has Mae done, and where is she now?

After she impacted the world and proved that African-American women could go to space, she then created the Jemison Group, which works to bring advanced technology to people worldwide and foster a love of science in students. Dr. Jemison collects African art, is an accomplished amateur dancer, has studied three foreign languages (Russian, Japanese and Swahili), and has travelled extensively.

She divides her time between speaking engagements, serving as president for two technology companies, and spending time with her cats Sneeze, Mac and Little Mama in Houston.
In 1993 she appeared as Lieutenant junior grade Palmer in the Star Trek: The Next Generation sixth season episode "Second Chances" and was the first "real" astronaut to ever appear on Star Trek.

Not to mention, in 2004 Dr. Jemison was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame. In 2006, she appeared in African American Lives a PBS documentary hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. that uses DNA testing to trace the ancestry of several African Americans.

Mae Jemison: I Wanted To Go Into Space