She Was The First African American Woman To Travel Into Space, And She Put In Years Of Hard Work To Make History

dimazel-, illustrative purposes only

Did you ever want to be an astronaut as a kid? 

If you love learning about space and missions for NASA, then you should know who Mae Jemison is.

Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to travel into space, and she put in years of hard and tremendous work to make history.

Mae was born in Decatur, Alabama, in 1956. Her family moved when she was little, and she grew up in Chicago, Illinois, with her parents and two siblings. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a maintenance supervisor.

Growing up, Mae had an interest in science early on. She’d read books about science and school and did well in her science classes. She graduated high school as an honor student in 1973 and attended Stanford University on a scholarship.

As one of few Black students in her classes, Mae often faced racial discrimination on campus. But she continued to work hard and did extracurriculars like serving as head of the Black Student Union. She also participated in theatrical and dance productions on campus.

Mae graduated from Stanford with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering in 1977 and then enrolled in the Cornell University Medical College. She received her Doctorate in Medicine from the school in 1981 and began practicing medicine. 

Mae had learned how to speak multiple languages and therefore decided to join the Peace Corps in 1983. For two years, she served as a medical officer in Africa.

When Mae returned to the United States in 1985, she decided to make a sudden career change and follow a dream she had since she was little. She wanted to become an astronaut. That year, she applied to NASA’s astronaut training program.

dimazel-, illustrative purposes only

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