Pioneering Astronaut Mae Jemison to be Commencement Speaker

Monday, April 22, 2024
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Mae Jemison has been a trailblazer entrepreneur, engineer, physician, educator, and humanitarian who has been at the forefront of integrating the physical and social sciences with art and culture to solve problems and foster innovation.

The first woman of color in the world to go into space, Mae Jemison, M.D., will present this year’s Commencement Address and receive an Honorary Degree of Engineering from Rose-Hulman during the May 25th ceremony in the Sports and Recreation Center.

Jemison is a former NASA Space Shuttle astronaut who also has made significant contributions as an entrepreneur, engineer, physician, educator, and humanitarian. She has been at the forefront of integrating the physical and social sciences with art and culture to solve problems and foster innovation.

“Dr. Jemison has led an amazing and well-rounded life – as an engineer, social scientist, dancer and choreographer, and medical doctor – and will inspire our Class of 2024 members along with our faculty and staff to use their talents to make a difference in the world,” said President Robert A. Coons. “Dr. Jemison is someone who can provide great insight to the Institute as we establish the groundwork for our Advancing by Design long-term strategic plan, especially in areas of sustainability and entrepreneurship.”

Coons pointed out that as an environmental studies professor at Dartmouth College, Jemison focused on designing sustainability into technologies for both the industrialized and developing worlds. She also served as the area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia and has founded several technology organizations, including The Jemison Group, Inc., a technology consulting firm that’s integrating critical socio-cultural issues into the design of engineering and science projects.

Jemison’s current mission is leading 100 Year Starship (100YSS), a nonprofit global initiative to assure that capabilities for human travel beyond our solar system to another star exist within the next 100 years while transforming life on Earth. She was the first professional astronaut to appear in the “Star Trek” television series, was featured as a LEGO mini figurine in the Women of NASA kit, was Astronaut Mae in Public Broadcasting Service’s “Sesame Street” show, and has co-hosted National Geographic’s “One Strange Rock” show and was the space operations advisor for the organization’s “Mars” miniseries.

Jemison’s pioneering mission as a NASA astronaut came in a joint Space Shuttle mission with the Japanese space agency. She is the chair of the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts External Council and founded the international The Earth We Share science camp, which designs and implements science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education experiences impacting thousands of students and hundreds of teachers worldwide.

A member of the National Academy of Medicine, Jemison has received numerous awards, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, Texas Science Hall of Fame, and International Space Hall of Fame. She has served on multiple Fortune 500 company boards and is on the board of directors of the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Jemison earned bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and African and Afro-American Studies from Stanford University and received her medical doctorate from Cornell University’s Weill College of Medicine.

Information about Rose-Hulman’s 146th Commencement, including a link to a broadcast of the ceremony, can be found a