Astronaut launches commemoration
Published: Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 00:09
In 1963, Texas A&M opened enrollment to African Americans and women. Half a century later, the University is celebrating the positive impact diversity has made on the quality of Texas A&M.
“Celebrating 50 Years of Inclusion” is a semester-long program led by the Office of the Vice President and Associate Provost for Diversity. The kick-off event on Tuesday, “The Sky is Not the Limit,” brought the first African-American woman astronaut, Mae Jemison, to Rudder Auditorium to share her experiences.
“Two days from now will mark the day of my 21st birthday,” Jemison said, referring to her first space flight aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour in 1992.
At the event, Jemison spoke on the importance of space exploration and how it can serve to bring people together despite their differences.
“The most important way to encourage space exploration is to make people feel as if they are all included, as if they are all a part of something,” Jemison said. “It’s amazing to think I am a part of this universe as a tiny speck of dust in space.”
Jemison’s speech attracted a diverse crowd to campus that included university, high school and middle school students. Kathy Li, senior international studies major, said Jemison’s talk carried an important message to those in attendance.
“[Jemison’s talk] was hopefully inspiring to some of the elementary and middle school kids who were here,” Li said.
Lisa Thompson, associate professor of education leadership and counseling, said Jemison’s story is a testament to diversity and achievement.
Jemison left NASA in 1993 and has since pursued a variety of space-related ventures. She is currently involved in the “100 Year Starship” collaboration, with the mission to work toward the possibility of interstellar travel within the next hundred years.
The next event in “Celebrating 50 Years of Inclusion” is the Hispanic Heritage Month’s opening ceremony at 6 p.m. Monday in the MSC.