Mae Jemison was the first African-American woman to enter space. She served on the Endeavor when it launched into space in 1992. Her life was a series of firsts, which makes these fun facts about her so important to know.
1. An Early Graduate
Jemison graduated from high school at the age of 16. Her academic talents got her a full scholarship to attend Stanford University. She majored in chemical engineering and minored in African and Afro-American studies while there. After Stanford, she would go on to study medicine at Cornell University, graduating in 1981. One decision could have changed everything – early in life, she had the chance to pursue professional dancing. She chose to pursue medicine instead.
2. A Curveball
Many freshly graduated doctors go straight into internships or residencies. Jemison took a different route and joined the Peace Corps instead. She would serve from 1983-1985 in Sierra Leone and Liberia as the regions medical officer. It would not be until 1987 when she would join NASA and eventually find her way into space.
3. Not Over Yet
Jemison would retire from NASA in 1993 and found The Jemison Group. The goal of this program was to develop a satellite program known as ALAFIYA. It’s purpose was simple: to enhance the delivery of health care to developing nations around the world. At the same time, she also helped to lead an international science camp for teens called The Earth We Share.
4. Always Developing
Even when she was working as a professor at Dartmouth College, she was still running an institute under her name that had the goal of advancing technologies for developing nations. Her passion was always to help those who needed it and her accomplishments, though notable, also pale in comparison to the number of people who benefited from her care over the years.
5. Always Remembered
Although she has been remembered through numerous honorary doctorate degrees and awards, one of the most profound honors that was given to Jemison was naming a school in Detroit after her.
Mae Jemison would accomplish anything that she set her mind to doing. The number of firsts she was able to accomplish are notable and inspirational even to this day. She had big dreams and she made them happen. As for the first thing she saw in space, it was her hometown of Chicago.