Meet MJ, she’s inspired by Mae Carol Jemison, the first black woman to travel into space. She served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 1987 and was selected to serve for the STS-47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.
Mae inspires us by saying, “Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it and make it the life you want to live.”
MJ is dressed in a replica of Mae’s bright orange space suit, complete with mission and NASA patches and working zippers, she also has a removeable black NASA cap.
Mae Carol Jemison was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama. the youngest of three children of Charlie Jemison and Dorothy Jemison. Her father was a maintenance supervisor for a charity organization, and her mother worked most of her career as an elementary school teacher of English and math at the Ludwig van Beethoven Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois.
Her NASA profile says that the Jemison family moved to Chicago when Mae was only three. It was in Chicago that an uncle introduced her to the world of science. At a very early age, Mae developed interests in anthropology, archaeology, and astronomy that she pursued throughout her childhood.
Mae Jemison graduated high school at the age of 16 and enrolled at Stanford University. In 1977 she graduated with degrees in both chemical engineering and Afro-American studies. She received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell University in 1981. She speaks four languages fluently.
Dr. Jemison has practiced medicine as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee camp and as a medical officer with the Peace Corps in West Africa. She was working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, California when NASA selected her and 14 others for astronaut training. Dr. Jemison completed her training as a mission specialist with NASA in 1988. In September of 1992, as a mission specialist aboard the Shuttle Endeavour, Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to enter space.
In 1993, Dr. Jemison resigned from NASA and founded the Jemison Group, Inc.
After she left NASA, in addition to the Jemison Group, Jemison also founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence and named the foundation in honor of her mother. One of the projects of the foundation is The Earth We Share, a science camp for students aged 12 to 16. Founded in 1994, camps have been held at Dartmouth College, Colorado School of Mines, Choate Rosemary Hall and other sites in the United States, well as internationally in South Africa, Tunisia, and Switzerland. The Dorothy Jemison Foundation also sponsors other events and programs, including the Shaping the World essay competition, Listening to the Future (a survey program that targets obtaining opinions from students), Earth Online (an online chatroom that allows students to safely communicate and discuss ideas on space and science), and the Reality Leads Fantasy Gala.
Jemison was a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College from 1995 to 2002 where she directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries.
In 1999, she also became an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. That same year, she founded BioSentient Corp and obtained the license to commercialize AFTE, the technique she and Mohri tested on themselves during STS-47.
In 2012, Jemison made the winning bid for the DARPA 100 Year Starship project through the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence. The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence was awarded a $500,000 grant for further work. The new organization maintained the organizational name 100 Year Starship. Jemison is the current principal of the 100 Year Starship.
In 2018, she collaborated with Bayer Crop Science and National 4-H Council for the initiative named Science Matters which was aimed at encouraging young children to understand and pursue agricultural sciences.
Mae Jemison continues to advocate strongly in favor of science education and getting minority students interested in science. She is a member of various scientific organizations, such as the American Medical Association, the American Chemical Society, the Association of Space Explorers and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
She is a doctor, scientist, writer, public speaker, has appeared on many television programs, and among her current projects are several that focus on improving healthcare in Africa and advancing technology in developing countries.