On October 17, 1956, the city of Decatur, AL saw the birth of a remarkable woman, Mae Jemison. The youngest of three children born to Charlie Jemison, a maintenance worker and his wife, Dorothy, a teacher, Mae moved with her family to Chicago at the age of three.

After graduating from Morgan Park High School in 1973 at the age of 16, Dr. Mae Jemison earned a BS in Chemical Engineering from Stanford University, while also fulfilling the requirements for a BA in African-American Studies. After earning these degrees in 1977, she attended Cornell University and received a Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981. During medical school she traveled to Cuba, Kenya and Thailand, providing primary medical care to people living there.
Demonstrating her compassion, Dr. Mae Jemison served in the Peace Corps, from January 1983 to June 1985. She shared her abilities in Sierra Leone and Liberia, West Africa as the area Peace Corps medical officer. Among her duties, she supervised the pharmacy, laboratory, medical staff as well as provided medical care, wrote self-care manuals, developed and implemented guidelines for health and safety issues. Also working in conjunction with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) she helped with research for various vaccines.

Upon completion of her Peace Corps duties, Dr. Mae Jemison returned to the US, accepting a position with the CIGNA Health Plans of California as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, California. Having a desire to do more with her life, she enrolled in graduate classes in engineering and applied to NASA for admission to the astronaut program. She was turned down on her first application, but persevered and in 1987 was accepted on her second application. She became one of the fifteen candidates accepted from over 2,000 applicants.
When Dr. Mae Jemison successfully completed her astronaut training program in August 1988, she became the fifth black astronaut and the first black female astronaut in NASA history. Her technical assignments included: launch support activities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; verification of Shuttle computer software in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), Science Support Group activities.

Dr. Mae Jemison was the science mission specialist on STS-47 Spacelab-J (September 12-20, 1992). STS-47 was a cooperative mission between the United States and Japan. The eight-day mission was accomplished in 127 orbits of the Earth, and included 44 Japanese and U.S. life science and materials processing experiments. Dr. Mae Jemison was a co-investigator on the bone cell research experiment flown on the mission. The Endeavour and her crew launched from and returned to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In completing her first space flight, Dr. Mae Jemison logged 190 hours, 30 minutes, 23 seconds in space, making her the first African-American woman in space.

Jemison resigned from NASA in 1993 and founded The Jemison Group, Inc., a technology and consulting firm to consider socio-cultural impacts when designing technologies. As an Environmental Studies professor at Dartmouth College from 1995 through 2001, she taught courses on sustainable development and technology design. Prior to joining NASA in 1987, she served as the Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa and a general practitioner in Los Angeles. As an astronaut, Jemison had assignments as a liaison between the astronaut corps and launch operations at Kennedy Space Center, served on the human research protocol board, tested the software that operates the shuttle and flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour Spacelab Japan mission—the first joint mission with the Japanese Space Agency.

A strong, committed voice for science literacy, in 1994 Jemison founded the international science camp The Earth We Share™ for students 12-16 years old, a program of the non-profit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence. The foundation held Celebrating Women of Color in Flight™ to highlight that women are vitally involved in aviation and aerospace across the world, in all capacities—from astronauts to electricians to story tellers. Jemison is Bayer Corporation’s national science literacy advocate. In her book Find Where the Wind Goes, Jemison writes for teenagers about growing up on the south side of Chicago, cultivating her aspiration to be a scientist and professional dancer, her experiences as a medical student in Africa, and her history-making journey into space.

Dr. Jemison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, an inductee of National Women’s Hall of Fame and the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and winner of the Kilby Science Award. Jemison was an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and is a board member of Kimberly Clark, Scholastic, and Valspar. Jemison is Chair of the Texas state Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board, Chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Task Force, member Morehouse College Board of Trustees.

Dr. Jemison graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and completed the requirements for an A.B. in African and Afro-American studies from Stanford University and earned her M.D. from Cornell University Medical College.

Jemison hosted the television series “ World of Wonder” and has appeared in documentaries on space flight as well as her African-American roots. In 1993 Jemison was chosen one of People Magazine’s “World’s 50 Most Beautiful People”. A Star Trek fan in her youth, Jemison appeared in an episode the series’ popular sequel, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Source: Official Website of Dr. Mae Jemison and About.com

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