Mae Jemison, MD

Mae Jemison portrait.

Mae Jemison, MD, first African American astronaut.

Seeing a lack of female astronauts during the Apollo missions, Mae Jemison decided to become one. She entered Stanford University at the age of 16. There were very few other African-American students in Jemison's classes and she continued to experience discrimination from her teachers, she stated in an interview that some arrogance is necessary for women and minorities to be successful in a white male dominated society. At Stanford, Jemison served as head of the Black Students Union.

Jemison attended Cornell Medical School and during her training, traveled to Cuba, to conduct a study funded by American Medical Student Association and to Thailand, where she worked at a Cambodian refugee camp.

When she came back to the United States, the flights of Sally Ride and Guion Bluford in 1983 inspired Jemison to apply to the astronaut program. Jemison first applied to NASA's astronaut training program in 1987 and she was chosen out of roughly 2,000 applicants to be one of the fifteen people in the NASA Astronaut Group 12, the first group selected following the Challenger disaster. Jemison flew on the USA/Japan mission STS-47 in 1992.

After leaving the astronaut corps in March 1993, Jemison accepted a teaching fellowship at Dartmouth. She also established the Jemison Group, a company that seeks to research, develop and market advanced technologies.