“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.”
If Mae Jemison had let others define the possibilities for her life, she might never have flown into outer space and become the first African American woman to do so.
Instead, Mae grew followed her heart by learning about anything she found interesting. This included a wide array of activities and subjects that had her wondering when she graduated from Stanford University whether to practice medicine or become a choreographer.
(Photo credit: NASA)
Mae’s NASA’s Space Program application expounded her passion for music and dancing as well as engineering and medical science degrees. Her extensive travels and skills develped while practicing as a doctor with the Peace Corp made her one of the most interesting people I have ever read about. she conducted while orbiting the Earth.
On September 12th, 1992, Mae Jemison spent eight days aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor circling the Earth. Her journey lasted five days longer than Valentina Tereshkova, the trailblazing Russian cosmonaut featured this past Wednesday in WS’s, The First Woman in Space. And, her role on board was vastly different, utilizing computer software that she had developed to conduct more than 40 scientific experiments while in space.
Mae’s training and pedigree as an Ivey-educated astronaunt spoke to the evolution of women’s roles and training compared to Valentina’s humble beginnings and limited training or experience. Mae’s mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor broke new ground. It wasn’t just that she was the first African American woman.
The space program had fundamentally changed as had the women becoming astronauts. When Mae’s flight took off, she was a seasoned academic and an art lover who traveled into space with an Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater poster, a West African statue and a photo of Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license.
Women wanted to be astronauts (Mae was chosen from a pool of 2,000 applicants) and progress was happening. More than 60+ women have gone into space since Valentina did. As a woman fluent in English, Russian, Japanese and Swahili, Mae showed the world that science should be practiced in isolation.
As Mae continued to expand her interests and realized she would not get the chance to go into space again, she abruptly left the program to write books and start a children’s foundation to encourage more interest in science. She toured schools and created a tech company. She built a dance studio in her home to produce jazz concerts and even narrated a few episodes of a Discovery Channel show.
Today’s TedTalk illustrates Mae’s continued evolution. She practices what she preaches, and encouraging adults and kids to redefine how we see science and creativity. Both should go hand in hand; logic is not devoid of creativity and there is creativity in science. Mae Jemison is proof of this, and that good things happen when we build opportunities and don’t wait for them to come knocking.
The sentence that followed the opening quote by Mae echoes the most fundamental belief behind everything we do at WomanScape. Never restrict yourself or the way you see, experience and navigate the world. “Hear other people’s wisdom, but re-evaluate it for yourself.”