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Jemison, Mae C. 1957–

Mae C. Jemison 1957

Astronaut, physician

At a Glance

Sources

By the time she was thirty-one Mae Jemison had received a double-major in Chemical Engineering and African-American studies and had served as a doctor in the Peace Corps in Liberia and Sierra Leone. She had also made history when she was selected from a pool of 2, 000 applicants and became the first black woman selected to be an astronaut by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). She then went on the publish a book for kids and founded her own company, the Jemison Group.

Becoming an astronaut was, as Marilyn Marshall noted in Ebony, a natural progression for Jemison. As a young girl and teenager she was always interested in science, especially astronomy, and was encouraged by her parents and teachers to pursue not only her science studies, but also dance and art. She earned a double degree at Stanford Universityin chemical engineering and Afro-American studiesand then studied medicine at Cornell University. While at Cornell she traveled to Thailand and Kenya to provide primary medical care services. After completing her medical internship Jemison joined the Peace Corps and worked as a staff physician in West Africa. I took care of Peace Corps volunteers and State Department personnel in Sierra Leone and I oversaw the medical health care program for volunteers in Liberia, Jemison explained to an Ebony contributor.

Jemison was working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles when she first applied to the space program, in October of 1985three months before the space shuttle Challenger accident that killed seven astronauts. NASA postponed the application process because of the Challenger incident, but Jemison still aspired to become an astronaut and re-applied in 1986. I didnt think about [the Challenger] in terms of keeping me involved, she told Marshall. I thought about it because it was very sad because of the astronauts who were lost, but not in any way keeping me from being interested in it or changing my views about things. Jemison was one of 15 candidates selected from a field of nearly 2, 000 aspiring astronauts. In addition to her assignment as mission specialist, she worked as a liaison between the Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA crew members in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Jemison came a step closer to being the first black woman in space when she was assigned the role of

At a Glance

Born c. 1957, in Decatur, AL; raised in Chicago, IL; daughter of Charlie (a custodian and contractor) and Dorothy (a teacher) Jemison. Education: Stanford University, degree in chemical engineering and Afro-American Studies, 1977; Cornell University, M.D., 1981.

Career: Medical intern, Los Angeles, CA, beginning 1981; staff doctor with Peace Corps in West Africa, 1983-85; CIGNA Health Plans of California, Los Angeles, general practitioner, 1985-87; NASA, Houston, TX, astronaut, 1987-92; Dartmouth Coll, teaching fellowship, 1993-; The Jemison Group, founder, 1993-.

Memberships: Board of directors, Scholastic, Inc; board of directors, World Sickle Cell Foundation, 1990-92; board of directors, The Keystone Center-board of directors Natl Urban League; honorary board member, Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition; advisory committee, American Express Geography Competition; American Medical Association; American Chemical Society; American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Awards: Essence Award, Essence magazine, 1988; named Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year, 1990; honorary doctorate, Lincoln University 1991; Ebony Black Achievement Award, 1992; an alternative public school in Detroit was named The Mae C. Jemison Academy, 1992; Alpha Kappa Alpha, honorary member.

Addresses: Office President, The Jemison Group, PO Box 591455, Houston, TX 77259-1455.

mission specialist for the June of 1991 shuttle Discovery flight, Spacelab-J. A joint venture with Japan, Space lab-J was charged with conducting life science and materials processing experiments in space to help scientists better understand the environment. As a mission specialistor scientist astronautJemisons responsibilities included, as she explained to Marshall in Ebony, being familiar with the shuttle and how it operates, to do the experiments once you get into orbit, to help launch the payloads or satellites, and also do extra-vehicular activities, which are the space walks.

On September 12, 1992, over five years after joining NASA, Jemison became the first African-American female to go into space. She served as a science mission specialist during an eight-day voyage upon the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemisons job was to study weightlessness and motion sickness on the seven-person crew. She also conducted an experiment with tadpoles. We wanted to know how the tadpoles would develop in space with no gravity, she explained to Essence. She continued, reporting that When we got back to Earth the tadpoles were right on track, and they have turned into frogs.

Joseph D. Atkinson, Jr., head of NASAs Equal Opportunity Programs Office, described Jemison as a very stately, intelligent, sincere and stable young woman. Commenting to Marshall, he added that Jemison earned high marks for being not only highly qualified technically, but also extremely sensitive to the social needs of the community. Regarding her role as the nations first black woman astronaut, Jemison commented to Ebony on what her achievement might signify to other women. The thing that I have done throughout my life is to do the best job that I can and to be me. In terms of being a role model, I really feel like if Im a role model, what Id like to be is someone who says, No, dont try to necessarily be like me or live your life or grow up to be an astronaut or a physician unless thats what you want to do.

In addition to her 1988 Essence Award, she was named the Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year in 1990 and in 1992 received the Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992. She also received an honorary doctorate from Lincoln University in 1991. Then, in 1992 an alternative public school in Detroit was named for her The Mae C. Jemison Academy. During those years she conducted science experiments for NASA and kept up her interests in medicine and science with various board memberships, including a stint from 1990 to 1992 on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation. She also held memberships in the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She has gone on to serve on the advisory committee of the American Express Geography Competition and as an honorary board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition.

In March of 1993 Jemison decided to leave NASA and she soon accepted a prestigious Montgomery teaching fellowship at Dartmouth College. That same year she founded The Jemison Group, a firm that researches, develops, and markets advanced technologies. She soon turned her considerable talents and energies towards helping children in school, particularly with science. She explained her goal to Essence, What we have to figure out is how to maintain the three Cs of sciencecuriosity, creativity, and critical thinkingin our children. Jemison has done her part by co-sponsoring an annual International Science Camp for kidsaged 12 to 16. The month-long summer camp is free to qualified applicants and focuses on critical thinking and experiential learning. She also promoted science for kids by serving as the National School Literacy Advocate for the Bayer Corporations program Making Science Make Sense. However, probably her broadest step towards reaching kids was the 2001 publication of her book Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life. Publishers Weekly wrote of the book, which is aimed at children in grades seven through 12, this inspiring autobiography is a testimony to the power of setting goals and the strength of character necessary to achieve them.

However, Jamisons achievements have not shielded her from one of the uglier facts of our societypolice brutality. In 1996 Jemison was stopped for a routine traffic violation in Nassau Bay, Texas. Upon finding that Jemison had a previous speeding violation the officer, who was white, attempted to arrest her. In the course of the arrest he grabbed her hand, twisted her wrist, and forced her to the ground. Jemison filed a complaint with the police department. It was quoted in part in Jet: In my opinion, there is absolutely no justification for an officer to treat the people he is sworn to protect in this high-handed and abusive manner. She continued, The officer was disrespectful and abusive. I kept asking him why he was doing this.

Pending an investigation the officer was suspended with pay. Despite this ugly incident, Jemison continued to serve as a role model to women and African Americans. She told Newsweek, One of the things that Im very concerned about is that as African-Americans, as women, many times we do not feel that we have the power to change the world and society as a whole. With her life and accomplishments she has proven that idea very, very wrong.

Sources

Periodicals

Booklist, November 1, 2001, p465.

Ebony, October 1987; August 1989; February 1990.

Essence, October 1988; April 1993, p58; March 1997, p124.

Jet, June 22, 1987; October 30, 1989; March 18, 1996, p8; November 29, 1999, p31.

Newsweek, September 18, 2000, p54.

New York Times, October 1, 1989.

Publishers Weekly, March 19, 2001, p101.

Working Woman, April 1989.

Michael E. Mueller and Candace LaBalle

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Jemison, Mae

Mae Jemison

Born: October 17, 1956
Decatur, Alabama

African American physician and astronaut

Mae Jemison, a doctor, was the first African American woman to be selected for the National Aeronautic and Space Administration's (NASA's) astronaut training program and was the first African American woman to travel in space.

Early life and education

Mae Carol Jemison was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama, the youngest child of Charlie Jemison, a roofer and carpenter, and Dorothy (Green) Jemison, an elementary school teacher. Her parents were supportive and encouraging of all of their children's talents and abilities; Jemison's sister, Ada Jemison Bullock, became a child psychiatrist, and her brother, Charles Jemison, became a real estate broker. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was three to take advantage of better educational opportunities there.

Throughout her early school years, Jemison spent many hours in her school library reading about all subjects related to science, especially astronomy. From a young age she was interested in space travel. During her time at Morgan Park High School, however, she became interested in pursuing a career in engineering. When she graduated in 1973 as an honor student, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship.

Jemison pursued a double major at Stanford, and in 1977 she received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering and in African and Afro-American Studies. Just as she had been in high school, Jemison was very involved in outside activities, including dance and theater productions, and she served as head of the Black Student Union. Upon graduation she entered Cornell University Medical College to work toward a medical degree.

During her years at Cornell, Jemison found time to expand her horizons by visiting and studying in Cuba and Kenya and working at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. When she obtained her degree in medicine in 1981, she received her on-thejob training at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center and later established a general practice. For the next two and a half years, she was the area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia, where she also taught and did medical research.

Following a dream

After her return to the United States in 1985, Jemison made a career change and decided to follow a dream she had had for a long time. In October of that year she applied for admission to NASA's astronaut training program. The selection process was delayed after the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger in January 1986, but when she reapplied a year later, Jemison was one of fifteen candidates chosen from a field of about two thousand. She became the first African American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program.

After more than a year of training, Jemison became an astronaut with the title of science-mission specialist, a job that would make her responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle. On September 12, 1992, with six other astronauts, Jemison flew into space aboard the Endeavour on mission STS-47. During her eight days in space, she conducted weightlessness and motion sickness experiments on the crew and on herself before returning to Earth on September 20. Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.

Honors and new challenges

In recognition of her accomplishments, Jemison received the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, was named Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year in 1990, received the Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992, and received a Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College in 1993. Also in 1992 a public school in Detroit, Michiganthe Mae C. Jemison Academywas named after her. Jemison is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and she served on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992. She is also a committee member of the American Express Geography Competition and a board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition.

After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop, and market advanced technologies (scientific ways of achieving a practical purpose). She is also a professor at Dartmouth College, where she started the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. Jemison also created The Earth We Share, a science camp for twelve-to sixteen-year-olds that helps improve students' problem-solving skills. She remains a popular public speaker, and in 2001 her autobiography, Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life, was published.

For More Information

Gelletly, LeeAnne. Mae Jemison. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2002.

Jemison, Mae. Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments from My Life. New York: Scholastic, 2001.

Yannuzzi, Della A. Mae Jemison: A Space Biography. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1998.

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Mae C. Jemison

Mae C. Jemison

Mae C. Jemison (born 1956), the first African American woman to be selected for NASA's astronaut training program, was also the first American American woman to travel in space.

Mae C. Jemison had received two undergraduate degrees and a medical degree, had served two years as a Peace Corps medical officer in West Africa, and was selected to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's astronaut training program, all before her thirtieth birthday. Her eight-day space flight aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992 established Jemison as the United States' first female African American space traveler.

Mae Carol Jemison was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama, the youngest child of Charlie Jemison, a roofer and carpenter, and Dorothy (Green) Jemison, an elementary school teacher. Her sister, Ada Jemison Bullock, became a child psychiatrist, and her brother, Charles Jemison, is a real estate broker. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was three to take advantage of better educational opportunities there, and it is that city that she calls her hometown. Throughout her early school years, her parents were supportive and encouraging of her talents and abilities, and Jemison spent considerable time in her school library reading about all aspects of science, especially astronomy. During her time at Morgan Park High School, she became convinced she wanted to pursue a career in biomedical engineering, and when she graduated in 1973 as a consistent honor student, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship.

At Stanford, Jemison pursued a dual major and in 1977 received a B.S. in chemical engineering and a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies. As she had been in high school, Jemison was very involved in extracurricular activities including dance and theater productions, and served as head of the Black Student Union. Upon graduation, she entered Cornell University Medical College to work toward a medical degree. During her years there, she found time to expand her horizons by visiting and studying in Cuba and Kenya and working at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. When she obtained her M.D. in 1981, she interned at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center and later worked as a general practitioner. For the next two and a half years, she was the area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia where she also taught and did medical research. Following her return to the U.S. in 1985, she made a career change and decided to follow a dream she had nurtured for a long time. In October of that year she applied for admission to NASA's astronaut training program. The Challenger disaster of January 1986 delayed the selection process, but when she reapplied a year later, Jemison was one of the fifteen candidates chosen from a field of about two thousand.

When Jemison was chosen on June 4, 1987, she became the first African American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program. After more than a year of training, she became an astronaut with the title of science-mission specialist, a job which would make her responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle. On September 12, 1992, Jemison finally flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavour on mission STS-47. During her eight days in space, she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. Altogether, she spent slightly over 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20. Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.

In recognition of her accomplishments, Jemison received several honorary doctorates, the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, the Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992, and a Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College in 1993, and was named Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year in 1990. Also in 1992, an alternative public school in Detroit, Michigan—the Mae C. Jemison Academy—was named after her. Jemison is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992. She is also an advisory committee member of the American Express Geography Competition and an honorary board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition. After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, she accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth and also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop, and market advanced technologies.

Further Reading

Hawthorne, Douglas B., Men and Women of Space, Univelt, 1992, pp. 357-359.

Smith, Jessie Carney, editor, Notable Black American Women, Gale, 1992, pp. 571-573. □

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Jemison, Mae C. 1957(?)—

Mae C. Jemison 1957(?)

Astronaut, physician

At a Glance

Sources

In June of 1987 Dr. Mae C. Jemison made history when she became the first black woman selected to be an astronaut by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Jemison came a step closer to being the first black woman in space when she was assigned the role of mission specialist for the June 1991 shuttle Discovery flight, Spacelab-J. A joint venture with Japan, Spacelab-J is charged with conducting life science and materials processing experiments in space to help scientists better understand the environment. As a mission specialistor scientist astronautJemisons responsibilities include, as she explained to Marilyn Marshall in Ebony, being familiar with the shuttle and how it operates, to do the experiments once you get into orbit, to help launch the payloads or satellites, and also do extra-vehicular activities, which are the space walks.

Becoming an astronaut was, as Marshall noted, a natural progression for Jemison. As a young girl and teenager she was always interested in science, especially astronomy, and was encouraged by her parents and teachers to pursue not only her science studies, but also dance and art. She earned a double degree at Stanford Universityin chemical engineering and Afro-American studies and then studied medicine at Cornell University. While at Cornell she traveled to Thailand and Kenya to provide primary medical care services. After completing her medical internship Jemison joined the Peace Corps and worked as a staff physician in West Africa. I took care of Peace Corps volunteers and State Department personnel in Sierra Leone and I oversaw the medical health care program for volunteers in Liberia, Jemison explained to an Ebony contributor.

Jemison was working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles when she first applied to the space program, in October of 1985three months before the space shuttle Challenger accident that killed seven astronauts. NASA postponed the application process because of the Challenger incident, but Jemison still aspired to become an astronaut and re-applied in 1986. I didnt think about [the Challenger] in terms of keeping me involved, she told Marshall. I thought about it because it was very sad because of the astronauts who were lost, but not in any way keeping me from being interested in it or changing my views about things. Jemison was one of 15 candidates

At a Glance

Born c. 1957, in Decatur, AL; raised in Chicago, IL; daughter of Charlie (a custodian and contractor) and Dorothy (a teacher) Jemison. Education: Graduated from Stanford University (degree in chemical engineering and Afro-American Studies), 1977; Cornell University, M.D., 1981, Medical intern, Los Angeles, CA, beginning 1981 ; staff doctor with Peace Corps in West Africa, 1983-85; CIGNA Health Plans of California, Los Angeles, general practitioner, 1985-87; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Houston, TX, astronaut, 1987.

Awards: Award from Essence magazine, 1988.

Addresses: Home Houston, TX. Office National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX 77058.

selected from a field of nearly 2,000 aspiring astronauts. In addition to her assignment as mission specialist, she works as a liaison between the Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA crew members in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Joseph D. Atkinson, Jr., head of NASAs Equal Opportunity Programs Office, described Jemison as a Very stately, intelligent, sincere and stable young woman/ Commenting to Marshall, he added that Jemison earns high marks for being not only highly qualified technically, but also extremely sensitive to the social needs of the community. Regarding her role as the nations first black woman astronaut, Jemison commented to Ebony on what her achievement might signify to other women. The thing that I have done throughout my life is to do the best job that I can and to be me. In terms of being a role model, I really feel like if Im a role model, what Id like to be is someone who says, No, dont try to necessarily be like me or live your life or grow up to be an astronaut or a physician unless thats what you want to do.

Sources

Ebony, October 1987; August 1989; February 1990.

Essence, October 1988.

Jet, June 22, 1987; October 30, 1989.

New York Times, October 1, 1989.

Working Woman, April 1989.

Michael E. Mueller

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Jemison, Mae C. (1956- )

Jemison, Mae C. (1956- )

American astronaut

Mae C. Jemison had received two undergraduate degrees and a medical degree, had served two years as a Peace Corps medical officer in West Africa , and was selected to join the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's astronaut training program, all before her thirtieth birthday. Her eight-day space flight aboard the space shuttle Endeavour in 1992 established Jemison as the United States' first female African American space traveler.

Mae Carol Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama, the youngest child of Charlie Jemison, a roofer and carpenter, and Dorothy (Green) Jemison, an elementary school teacher. Her sister, Ada Jemison Bullock, became a child psychiatrist, and her brother, Charles Jemison, is a real estate broker. The family moved to Chicago, Illinois, when Jemison was three to take advantage of better educational opportunities there, and it is that city that she calls her hometown. Throughout her early school years, her parents were supportive and encouraging of her talents and abilities, and Jemison spent considerable time in her school library reading about all aspects of science, especially astronomy . During her time at Morgan Park High School, she became convinced she wanted to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. When she graduated in 1973 as a consistent honor student, she entered Stanford University on a National Achievement Scholarship.

At Stanford, Jemison pursued a dual major and in 1977 received a B.S. in chemical engineering and a B.A. in African and Afro-American Studies. As she had been in high school, Jemison was very involved in extracurricular activities, including dance and theater productions, and served as head of the Black Student Union. Upon graduation, she entered Cornell University Medical College to work toward a medical degree. During her years there, she found time to expand her horizons by visiting and studying in Cuba and Kenya and working at a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand. When she obtained her M.D. in 1981, she interned at Los Angeles County/University of Southern California Medical Center and later worked as a general practitioner. For the next two and a half years, she was the area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia where she also taught and did medical research. Following her return to the United States in 1985, she made a career change and decided to follow a dream she had nurtured for a long time. In October of that year she applied for admission to NASA's astronaut training program. The Challenger disaster of January 1986 delayed the selection process, but when she reapplied a year later, Jemison was one of the 15 candidates chosen from a field of about 2000.

When Jemison was chosen in 1987, she became the first African-American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program. After more than a year of training, she became an astronaut with the title of science-mission specialist, a job that would make her responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle. On September 12, 1992, Jemison finally flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavour on mission STS47. During her eight days in space, she conducted experiments on weightlessness and motion sickness on the crew and herself. Altogether, she spent slightly over 190 hours in space before returning to Earth on September 20. Following her historic flight, Jemison noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.

In recognition of her accomplishments, Jemison received several honorary doctorates, the 1988 Essence Science and Technology Award, the Ebony Black Achievement Award in 1992, and a Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College in 1993, and was named Gamma Sigma Gamma Woman of the Year in 1990. Also in 1992, an alternative public school in Detroit, Michiganthe Mae C. Jemison Academywas named after her. Jemison is a member of the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and served on the Board of Directors of the World Sickle Cell Foundation from 1990 to 1992. She is also an advisory committee member of the American Express Geography Competition and an honorary board member of the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Malnutrition. After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, she accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth and also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop, and market advanced technologies.

See also History of exploration III (Modern era); Spacecraft, manned

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