Stephanie Wilson, Aeronautical Engineer and NASA Astronaut
Making a dream come true.
“I have found my purpose in life”.
Stephanie Wilson became the second African American woman in space, second to Mae Jemison. This is her story:
As a young girl, Stephanie Wilson liked to look up at the sky and wonder about outer space. In her own words she said, “Looking at the stars definitely made me feel that there was more than Earth. There is more than our solar system, and there is much more to learn about the universe” (Rushawn 2017). Having a dad as an electrical engineer most likely influenced her decision to study engineering. But it was in middle school, specifically a career-day assignment, that propelled her to pursue aeronautical engineering. She interviewed an astronomy professor and that encounter reignited her interest in space. She worked hard in high school; hard enough to earn an entrance to Harvard University to study aeronautical engineering.
After graduating from Harvard she worked on earning her Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas. Her studies focussed on modeling large, flexible space structures. When Stephanie joined NASA in 1996, she was one of three African American women in the space candidacy program, After successfully completing her training, Her first launch into space was aboard the space shuttle Discovery in April 2006 and then again in October 2007. She flew to space onboard three space shuttle missions and to date, her 42 days in space are the most of any African American astronaut, male or female.
Stephanie hopes that her example can help inspire other young African American women to study science and become astronauts. She has a strong faith that gave her confidence to go into space, and to feel God’s protection in all things she did.
“I think my faith played an essential role in my career,” she said. “I also think my family, friends and teachers played a part as well because they always encouraged me to go for my dreams.”
Wilson earned recognition for her work. She received the NASA Distinguished Medal, NASA Space Flight Medal, and the Harvard College Women’s Professional Achievement Award and the Harvard Foundation Scientist of the Year Award. She is still with NASA working in the branch for operations of the International Space Station.
What is Stephanie’s advice to you? She wants you to know the she believes that she found her purpose in life. She said. “I have to remind myself that God is in control. I might not understand his plan, but he does have one. I hope you people will see that anything is possible.”
Walters, Rushawn, 2.20.2017., Stephanie Wilson: Making a dream become a reality. Howard University News.
See also blackpast.org