Tuesday, April 10, 2012
J Is For Dr. Mae Jemison
Brilliant does not even begin to describe Mae. She graduated high school at sixteen and attended Stanford University on a scholarship. She received a B.S. in chemical engineering and also earned enough for an A.B. in African and Afro-American Studies. After graduating medical school from Cornell in 1981, Mae joined the Peace Corps and from 1983 to 1985, she was the area medical officer for the West African nations of Sierra Leone and Liberia. She once stayed awake with a patient for 56 hours straight as the poor patient suffered with meningitis and had to be flown to Germany for treatment.
In 1987, she joined NASA. She was in the first class of astronauts selected after the Challenger disaster. Her five year stint culminated with her journey on board the Endeavor, where she served as Mission Specialist. Jemison later said of her experience, "The first thing I saw from space was Chicago, my hometown. I was working on the middeck where there aren't many windows, and as we passed over Chicago, the commander called me up to the flight deck. It was such a significant moment because since I was a little girl I had always assumed I would go into space." And guess what? She drew some of her inspiration from Lt. Uhura. Rock on Nichelle Nichols!
After NASA, Jemison has gone on to do even more extraordinary things. In 1993 she founded The Jemison group, which researched, markets and develops technology for every day life. She also founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence named in honor of her mother. This organization runs The Earth We Share (TEWS) a four week residential science camp for kids which focuses on scientific answers for global problems. She is currently a professor at Dartmouth and in 2009 participated in First Lady Michelle Obama's forum for promising girls in Washington DC.
Mae is the only real astronaut to make a guest appearance on Star Trek. She played Lt. Palmer in the episode Second Chances of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
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