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Mae Jemison

Engineer and Astronaut

Who is Mae Jemison? 

Mae Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, in 1957. With three children in the family, the Jemison moved to Chicago when Mae herself was only three-years-old. It was here that an uncle of hers introduced her to a world of science. He pushed her and soon after, Mae developed interest in anthropology, archaeology, and astronomy. She pursued these interests throughout her children, and at the age of sixteen, Mae enrolled at Stanford University. In 1977, she graduated with degrees in both chemical engineering and Afro-American studies. She received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell University soon after. 

Dr. Jemison didn’t hop into space just yet. She practiced medicine as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee and as a medical officer with the Peace Corps in West Africa. It was while she was working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, California, when NASA selected her and fourteen others for astronaut training. She completed her coaching in 1988 and four years later, she would be the first African American woman to enter space aboard the Shuttle Endeavor. One year later, Dr. Jemison resigned from NASA and founded the Jemison Group, Inc. She focuses on improving healthcare in Africa and advancing technology in developing countries.

As a doctor, engineer, and NASA astronaut, Mae Jemison has always reached beyond what people thought she could achieve. She reached for the stars! And that’s exactly where she landed. 

3 Things We Love About Mae Jemison:

  • She was president of the Black Student Union and choreographed a production called Out of the Shadows about the African American experience.
  • She taught environmental studies at Dartmouth College and directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. 
  • After hearing that she was a fan of Star Trek, Jemison was asked to appear on an episode! 

Work Cited

https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/whos_who_level2/jemison.html 
https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/mae-jemison

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