One Giant Leap for Womankind
Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space on June 18, 1983. She died on July 23, 2012 from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61. Her inspiring story and passion for encouraging girls to learn the sciences helped pave the way for a new generation of women astronauts. Her journey also provides relatable lessons that can help reassure women going through life’s transitions.
Her path needed adjusting
Although life transitions can be challenging, they may lead to great things. As a teenager, Dr. Ride was a highly ranked junior tennis player and expected to play professionally. Ultimately, she realized it would be better for her to attend college. She became an astronaut after applying to a NASA ad in the Stanford University student newspaper.
Her new experiences required training
Dr. Ride shared stories about the many things she had to learn before heading into space, such as how to operate the equipment and coordinate efforts with her team, stories which may be of comfort to women facing new challenges.
She saw the world from another perspective
Dr. Ride described the view of our planet from space as indescribably beautiful and the blue line protecting the earth’s atmosphere as surprisingly thin. For the first time, she understood the frailty of our existence.
She made it a lifetime commitment to help other women succeed
According to Janet L. Kavandi, female astronaut and director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, “when the last person walked the moon in 1972, there was no opportunity for a woman to participate.”* Today, NASA’s Artemis mission (named for the Greek goddess of the moon and twin sister of Apollo) is shooting to land the first woman on the moon by 2024. It’s a giant leap for womankind influenced by Sally Ride’s accomplishments and the additional gains made by the female astronauts who she inspired. Sally Ride was passionate about challenging stereotypes and encouraging young women. Her legacy continues through STEM educational programs and camps she established to educate girls and shape their attitudes toward math and science.
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*NASA: Sustained presence on the moon will be a good investment,” Janet L. Kavandi, U.S.A. Today Opinion contributor, May 28, 2019.