Dr. Mae Jemison the first Black Woman to travel into Space
Mae C. Jemison is an American astronaut and physician who was the first African American woman to be enrolled in the NASA training program on June 4, 1987. Eventually on 12 September 1992, Jemison and six others flew into space on STS47, onboard Endeavour making her the first African American woman in space. Jemison received many distinctions and honorary doctorates in recognition of her achievements.
Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, on October 17, 1956. She was the youngest child of the roofer and carpenter Charlie Jemison and of the elementary school teacher Dorothy (Green) Jemison. She was born in a family of hardworking people. Ada Jemison Bullock, her sister, was a child psychiatrist, and her brother, Charles Jemison, is a broker of estates.
When Jemison was three years old, the Jemison family moved to Chicago, Illinois for a quality education, and she considers her hometown. Jemison’s parents have encouraged and promoted her talents and skills in her early years in school, and spent lots of time studying all the aspects of science, especially astronomy in her school.
She was inspired to pursue a career in biomedical during her stay at Morgan Park High School. When she graduated as an exemplary student in 1973, she was awarded a national achievement bursary to Stanford University.
Jemison had been in high school and was actively engaged as head of the Black Student Union in Stanford extra-curricular events including dance and theater productions. She graduated in Chemical Engineering in 1977 from University with a Bachelor of Science. After graduating, she joined Medical College at Cornell University and during her years found time to extend her horizons through studies in Cuba and Kenya and work in Thailand’s Cambodian refugee camp.
Career as a Medical Doctor
After Jemison received her M.D. In 1981, she was interned and later worked as a general practitioner at the Los Angeles County/University of South California Medical Center. She was the Peace Corps medical officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia for the following two and a half years, where she also taught and did medical studies.
After returning to the United States in 1985, Jemison changed her career and chose to pursue a long-standing dream: she submitted a request to join the NASA training program in October. The Challenger tragedy of January 1986 postponed the selection process, but Jemison was one of the 15 applicants from a field of around 2,000 when she applied again one year later.
First African American Woman Astronaut
Jemison was the first African American woman to be admitted to NASA training on 4 June 1987. After more than a year of preparation, she became the first African American astronaut who was awarded the position of science mission specialist – a role which would lead her to perform scientific experiments related to teams on the space shuttle. When Jemison traveled to space with six more astronauts on Mission STS47 on the Endeavour, she was the first African American woman in the space on 12 September 1992.
Jemison had performed weightlessness and motion sickness tests on the team and herself during her Eight days in space. In all, on 20 September 1992, she stayed for over 190 hours before returning to the Planet. Following her groundbreaking flight, Jemison acknowledged that society should understand how much the opportunity can be given to women and members of other minority groups.
In recognition of her achievements, Jemison was awarded a number of honorary doctorates including the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, the 1992 Ebony Black Achievement Award, and the 1993 Dartmouth College Montgomery Fellowship. She’d also been named the Year’s Gamma Sigma Woman in 1990. In 1992, the Mae C. Jemison Academy was named after her. An alternative public school in Detroit, Michigan.
Jemison served on the board of directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992 and was part of a number of leading organizations such as the American Medical Association of Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society and the American Association to support research. She served as a member of the American Express Geography Competition advisory committee and as an honorary board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition.
Career After NASA
Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship in Dartmouth after leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993. Jemison also founded Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop and market advanced technologies.
Jemison remains a strong advocate for science and education. “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life,” Jemison famously said. “Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.”
„Once I got into space, I was feeling very comfortable in the universe. I felt like I had a right to be anywhere in this universe, that I belonged here as much as any speck of stardust, any comet, any planet” Dr. Mae Jemison