Role Models: Dr. Mae Jemison
I will never be a scientist, a mathematician, or a person who writes code for newfangled internet functions; that ship has sailed. If I went back in time to the beginning of college, I would choose a double major that would include both a STEM major, in addition to my humanities major, in order to feed both my whole brain and my future job prospects. It's too late for that...not technically, but at this point I'm moving on to other things and will instead try to convince my children of this wisdom when the time comes.
In the meantime, I continue to be a person who is inspired by those around me, regardless of my specific pursuits, or theirs. And the older I get, the more habitually I act on my need to get inspired. Adulthood can be messy, tedious, terrifying, and downright exhausting. If I want to rise above those feelings, sometimes I need some extra inputs.
I plan to write more about the people who inspire me, but this week, the one on my mind is Dr. Mae Jamison. I was minding my own business last week, feeding the baby while the radio was on in the background, and I heard the most fanstastic MPR Presents program. Dr. Jemison was interviewed by Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer who also founded "Black Girls Code". The coolest part was how engaging she was in the interview...funny, subtle, gracious, firm.
I know that I had heard Dr. Jemison's story before, but something about it floored me this time. Who decides to be an engineer, an astronaut, and a doctor? How awesome is that? Who goes to Stanford at age sixteen as an African-American girl on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement? She 'wasn't old enough to be a hippie" but remembers that era as a very creative time, when people were pushing to be involved. She felt empowered to do anything. In high school, she attended Chicago Public Schools, and in her words, had incredible teachers and benefitted from new teaching techniques of the era.
What inspires Dr. Jemison? When asked, she remarked that she is inspired by the fact that every single day we can choose how we spend our time. I also really liked her remarks on what it takes to succeed...she's not falling for the it-just-happened fairy tale that seems a little bit pervasive in our cultureof late...in her words, "Let's be real". She rattles off the importance of dealing with roadblocks, failures and successes, working with people to get something done and knowing when to let something along for a bit. But ultimately, she says, "You have a choice as to what to do with your time...think through what it is that you want to do, who it is that you want to be, and understand that you have choices of what to do with your time. And that's what inspires me; knowing that I have time, and that I get choices."