“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. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”
– Dr. Mae C. Jemison
Dr. Mae C. Jemison is a truly inspiring woman who has inevitably changed the world forever. If being the first woman of colour to go into space wasn’t enough, she has helped people all over the world as a Medical Officer in the Peace Corps and is currently making history as the Principal of the 100 Year Starship Foundation.
I chose Dr. Mae C. Jemison due to her undoubtable strength, courage, passion, and perseverance. Like me, Dr. Mae C. Jemison has a large variety of interests. As a young girl, she was involved in dance and musical theatre; she loved it so much, her childhood dream was to become a professional dancer.
Mae C. Jemison’s mother, one of her biggest inspirations, gave her some life-changing advice, “You can always dance if you’re a doctor, but you can’t doctor if you’re a dancer.” This advice convinced Dr. Mae C. Jemison to peruse her other interests and to enroll into Cornell University Medical College. This was after already receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. While studying there, she had the opportunity to give medical aid to those in need in countries such as Thailand, Kenya, and Cuba.
After her medical training was over, Dr. Mae C. Jemison joined the Peace Corps as a Medical Officer. For two years she saved countless lives in Sierra Leone and Liberia, two countries in desperate need of health care. I find it so inspiring that Dr. Mae C. Jemison could leaver her home for such a long time so that she could help make the world a better place. I have so much respect for those who can sacrifice so much to help those in need.
After returning to the United States, Dr. Mae C. Jemison decided to tackle her long-time goal of becoming a NASA astronaut. She was inspired by Nichelle Nichols, an African-American actress who played Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. She wanted to change the status of women of colour in space from fiction to fact. Dr. Mae C. Jemison applied to NASA’s astronaut program. She, along with 14 others, were chosen from over 2000 applicants, making her the first African-American woman to have been accepted. I like to think that there is a little girl of colour out there who is learning about Dr. Mae C. Jemison and her accomplishments, hoping that one day that can be just her. Even though I will never be able to fully relate to what that little girl is feeling, but I know that representation of minorities and people like you can be inspiring and truly life changing.
If that wasn’t enough, Dr. Mae C. Jemison is currently the principal of the 100 Year Starship project. Her ambition is so inspiring, and I fully believe that her goal of exploring space outside of our solar system will soon become a reality. I mean, has she given us any reason to doubt her yet?
When Dr. Mae C. Jemison retired from NASA, she took it upon herself to educate and inspire future generations. She has written a memoir for children called Find Where the Wind Goes. This inspiring story tells about her struggles against racism and bias during her education. Topics like these are so important to talk about, especially with younger children. Dr. Mae C. Jemison also opened a dance studio where she taught jazz and African dances. I think it’s beautiful that she teaches younger African-American girls to embrace their culture and to be proud of who they are.
It is safe to say that Dr. Mae C. Jemison will be remembered for centuries to come. Her intelligence, selflessness, and creativity make her stand out as an eminent woman. She truly helped to pave the way for people of colour and women in the sciences, achieving more in her 61 years than I could ever hope to in multiple lifetimes. And who knows, maybe in 100 years time we will remember her as we explore a new solar system, just like she dreams of?
Scholastic Team, (2001), Dr. Mae Jemison Interview, Retrieved from http://teacher.scholastic.com/space/mae_jemison/interview.htm
Dr. Mae Jemison, (2003, February 2), EXECUTIVE LIFE: THE BOSS; ‘What Was Space Like?’, Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/02/business/executive-life-the-boss-what-was-space-like.html
Biography.com Editors, (2018, January 19), Mae C. Jemison Biography, Retrieved from https://www.biography.com/people/mae-c-jemison-9542378
Anonymous, (n.d.), Mae Jemison Biography, Retrieved from https://www.notablebiographies.com/Ho-Jo/Jemison-Mae.html
100 Year Starship Team, (n.d.), Mission, Retrieved from https://100yss.org/mission/purpose