This month in STEM — Dr Mae Jemison

Oct 31, 2022

This month, we celebrate the birthday of one of the most accomplished women in STEM- engineer, physician, and former astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison. Born on October 17 in Decatur, Alabama, Jemison was the daughter of a teacher and a maintenance supervisor. She developed a love for dance and a passion for science early on.

As a child, Dr. Jemison would watch the Apollo broadcasts on TV, during which she noticed there were no women astronauts. Additionally inspired by Nichelle Nichols’ character Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek, Jemison made it her goal to become an astronaut.

Jemison was an accomplished student whose hard work would someday help her achieve this dream. In 1977, she graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and a Bachelor of Arts degree in African and African-American studies. From here, she would go on to attend medical school at Cornell University. She led a study for the American Medical Student Association in Cuba and worked in a refugee camp in Thailand. Additionally, she joined the Peace Corps.

In 1983, Dr. Jemison applied to NASA’s space program, was accepted, and became the first African American woman in space. Despite her many accomplishments up to this point, she would continue to further her success. For example, she began The Jemison Group, a consulting company focused on science and technology and taught at Dartmouth College. After aspiring to be like Nichelle Nichols, she even got to star in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation (thanks to an invitation from LeVar Burton, who played Geordi LaForge on the series). 

Her current focus is the 100-Year Starship project, which works to guarantee space travel to a star within the next one hundred years. Simultaneously, she serves on the Board of Directors for various organizations and has received numerous honors and awards. 

Dr. Jemison continuously encourages the younger generations to work toward a career in science or medicine. It is crucial that all students have the opportunity to experience STEM learning so that we can provide a path for the many Dr. Jemisons of the next generation to make a difference. At Excalibur STEM, it is our goal to provide these opportunities and bring STEM education to students everywhere to prepare them for and provide our world with a successful future. Check out our STEM lessons in the Content Library and Content Library Junior to get started!

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