Dear Dr. Mae Jemison,
I am going to talk to you as if you were my friend because I choose to believe that maybe if we met one another, we would be friends. I can see it now…we’re watching that episode of Star Trek you were in (TNG: Season 6 episode 24 “Second Chances”) while eating pizza in our sweatpants and making friendship bracelets.
“The thing that I have done throughout my life is to do the best job that I can and to be me.”
I know this friendship might seem unlikely to some of you but Dr. Mae Jemison and I ACTUALLY have a few things in common. Dr. Jemison has always had a passion for the arts. As a teacher, she believes in the importance of weaving the arts and sciences together to change the way we learn and think. While working towards her Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering at Stanford University, Dr. Mae Jemison was involved in many extracurricular activities including dance and theatre. SO THERE.
“I knew in kindergarten that I wanted to be a scientist. I also wanted to be a dancer, an architect and a fashion designer.”
Did I forget to mention that Dr. Jemison went to Stanford on a National Achievement Scholarship (when she was 16 years old) and was head of its Black Student Union? Or that upon graduating from Stanford she studied in Cuba and Kenya before working in a Cambodian refugee camp in Thailand? What about how she attended Cornell Medical College where she obtained her M.D. and worked with the Peace Corps as a medical officer while teaching and conducting her own research? Oh and she became the FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO GO TO OUTER SPACE.
“You have as much right as anyone else to be in this world and to be in any profession you want…you don’t have to wait for permission”
Dr. Jemison, I’m sure that if we were friends you would probably hate how much I would brag about you to people because you’re probably a super humble, down to earth lady who just so happens to be one of the smartest people I have ever heard of AND THERE I GO AGAIN! I can’t help it! So, like I would probably always say, “Mae—“ (can I call you that?) “You’re a total badass, get over it.” I need to brag about you because people who work hard and do great things inspire other people to work hard and do great things. Because you founded the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which runs the internationally known science camp “The Earth We Share” to encourage others to imagine the unimaginable. And because despite having learned about various missions to outer space in my American History class, I didn’t know who you were until yesterday. And that, my friend, is bullshit. I think you said it best when you “[…] noted that society should recognize how much both women and members of other minority groups can contribute if given the opportunity.” And over here at the Muddy Mary Project, we couldn’t agree more.
“Never limit yourself because of others’ limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination.”
Of course, I can see how it might get annoying to have me ask you a zillion questions every time we hangout, but can you blame me? You’re crazy cool! You have seen and experienced the world in so many ways. You’re an artist, physician, volunteer, explorer, teacher and scholar. You were in SPACE the year I was born. While I was learning how to support my giant head by myself, you were learning about weightlessness on the Endeavour. And the truth is, I could listen to your adventures all day because that’s what friends do. So please, tell me more and pass me another slice of pizza.
You can also check out Dr. Mae Jemison’s crazy cool interactive website here: http://www.drmae.com/
“Mae C. Jemison.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 10 June 2015.