Best Known For
Doctor Mae C. Jemison is the first African-American woman ever to be a U.S. astronaut. In 1992, she flew into space aboard the Endeavour.
Mae Jemison - Mini Biography (2:23)
Sally Ride - Mini Biography (3:01)
A short biography of Mae Jemison, who became the first African American woman in space when she thrust into orbit on the shuttle Endeavour in 1992.
Sally Ride studied at Stanford University before beating out 1000 other applicants for a spot in NASA's astronaut program. Ride joined the Challenger shuttle mission on June 18, 1983, and became the first American woman in space.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
Mae C. Jemison was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama. On June 4, 1987, she became the first African-American woman ever admitted into the astronaut training program. On September 12, 1992, Jemison finally flew into space with six other astronauts aboard the Endeavour on mission STS47. In recognition of her accomplishments, Jemison received several awards and honorary doctorates.
"Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination."
Astronaut and physician Mae 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 3 years old to take advantage of better educational opportunities there, and it is that city that she calls her hometown.
Throughout her early school years, Jemison's parents were supportive and encouraging of her talents and abilities, and she spent a considerable amount of 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.
As she had been in high school, Jemison was very involved in extracurricular activities at Stanford, including dance and theater productions, and served as head of the Black Student Union. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from the university in 1977. Upon graduation, she entered Cornell University Medical College and, during her years there, found time to expand her horizons by studying in Cuba and Kenya and working at a Cambodian rfugee camp in Thailand.
After she obtained her M.D. in 1981, Jemison 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, Jemison 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 2,000.
When Jemison was chosen on June 4, 1987, she became the first African-American woman admitted into the astronaut training program. She became an astronaut after more than a year of training, earning the title of science mission specialist, a job that would make her responsible for conducting crew-related scientific experiments on the space shuttle.
profile name: Mae C. Jemison profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
When it comes to famous black scientists, George Washington Carver, Mae C. Jemison, and Neil Degrasse Tyson probably come to mind. But do you know about Otis Boykin and how he's helped old hearts beat a little better? And how about Garrett Morgan, whose inventions have kept hair straighter, clothes fitter, and traffic more efficient? Learn more about these famous black scientists and more.
Famous Black Scientists 16 people in this group
Did you know that since 1912, nearly 50 million girls in the United States have joined the Girl Scouts? Girl Scouts helped an amazingly diverse array of famous women develop a strong foundation of courage, confidence and character. It's no surprise then that quite a few famous women spent time in the sash. Celebrities who got their start selling cookies and earning merit badges include Wonder Woman star Lynda Carter and actress/writer Carrie Fisher; former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Nancy Reagan; Olympic skaters Bonnie Blair and Peggy Fleming; astronaut Sally Ride; and iconic women's rights activist Gloria Steinem. Browse our collection of inspiring famous Girl Scouts who have certainly earned merit badges in their fields.
Girl Scouts 45 people in this group
Despite all sorts of institutional obstacles, women have continued to reach stratospheric levels of success in a full gamut of professional pursuits, whether as scientists, scribes, educators, governmental leaders, athletes, designers, film directors or performers. Learn more about the plethora of triumphs obtained by our group of trailblazers.
Visit Biography.com's Women's History group to explore more biographies, photos and videos of some the world's most fascinating women.
Groundbreaking Women 71 people in this group