Mae C. Jemison
Birthplace: Decatur, Ala.
Astronaut Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to enter space when she served on the crew of the Space Shuttle Endeavor in September 1992. Jemison's life, however, is also full of terrestrial accomplishments. A high school graduate at the age of 16, she attended Stanford University on a scholarship, graduating with a B.S. degree in chemical engineering and having fulfilled the requirements for an A.B. in African and Afro-American Studies. After graduating from medical school (Cornell University, 1981), Jemison joined the Peace Corps, serving as its area medical officer from 1983 to 1985 in the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. After serving in NASA from 1987 to 1993, Jemison founded The Jemison Group, Inc., which developed ALAFIYA, a satellite-based telecommunications systems intended to improve health care delivery in developing nations. She also was a professor in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College, where she directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries.