Women and Adversity: Dr. Mae Jemison
First African American Woman in Space
Dr. Mae Jemison’s accomplishments will undoubtedly elicit admiration from all women because of the scope of her talents.
Born in 1956 in Decatur, AL, the youngest of three children, Dr. Jemison names Chicago as her hometown because her family moved there when she was three. She attended Morgan Park High School and at the age of 16 went on to Stanford University where she received her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and bachelor of arts degree in African and African-American studies. She earned her doctorate in medicine at Cornell University Medical College and at the same time studied in Cuba and Kenya and worked at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand.
She interned at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center as a general practitioner. She then entered the Peace Corps and was the medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia and taught medical research. From the time she was a child Dr. Jemison loved science and in 1985 applied for astronaut training at NASA. The 1986 Challenger disaster delayed selection, but when Dr. Jemison applied again she was one of 15 chosen from 2,000 applicants.
She was science mission specialist on the Endeavour in 1992, being the first black woman in space. On the mission, she was co-investigator on a bone cell research experiment and conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on herself and the other six members of the crew. She left NASA in March 1993.
She then taught at Dartmouth College and also established the Jemison Group, which researches, develops and markets advanced technologies. She is a sought-after speaker and is now “leading 100 Year Starship to assure human interstellar space travel to another star within the next century,” according to her listing at The Harry Walker Agency, a speakers bureau.
She is founder and chairman of the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization she named in honor of her mother. The Earth We Share – TEWS – is the foundation’s principal program designed to promote science literacy for middle and secondary school students’ knowledge of science and their ability to solve problems.
Jemison also founded BioSentient Corp., which develops and markets mobile equipment worn to monitor body’s vital signs. She also founded the 100-year solar system organization (referenced above), whose mission is to develop ways to make human travel beyond our solar system possible within the next 100 years.
Ms. Jemison is fluent in Russian, Swahili and Japanese, is an excellent dancer and enjoys the theater, photography and skiing.
She lives in Houston, has never married and has no children.
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