Former Astronaut to Speak at Ohio Wesleyan’s 2012 Commencement

Mae C. Jemison, M.D., First Woman of Color in Space

Mae C. Jemison, M.D.

DELAWARE, OHIO – Mae C. Jemison, M.D., will deliver the keynote address at Ohio Wesleyan University’s 168th commencement ceremony. Jemison’s remarkable career as a doctor, engineer, scientist, academic, entrepreneur, and public intellectual includes six years with NASA as a space shuttle astronaut and making history in 1987 as the first woman of color in space.

Ohio Wesleyan’s commencement ceremony will be held at 1 p.m. May 13 in Phillips Glen outside of Phillips Hall, 50 S. Henry St., Delaware. The event also will be streamed live online at

Kyle Lemke, OWU senior class president, calls Jemison “the perfect person” to speak to Ohio Wesleyan’s 2012 graduates. “She shares one of the many visions that the senior class has, which is to do things that are bigger than ourselves,” said Lemke, a health and human kinetics major from Loundonville, Ohio. “Her global humanitarian efforts in Africa, Cambodia, Thailand, and other parts of the world embody the leadership and service that OWU tries to inspire. … I can only imagine that her speech will significantly impact our class as we graduate and strive to make a difference in the world.”

Jemison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, an inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the National Medical Association Hall of Fame, and a winner of the Kilby Science Award. Jemison was an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and is a board member of Kimberly-Clark Corp., Scholastic Corp., and The Valspar Corp. She is a former chair of the Texas State Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board, chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Task Force, and member of Morehouse College Board of Trustees.

Most recently, a nonprofit organization started by Jemison, “The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence,” was selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to design, establish, and implement an extensive program to assure that the capabilities to achieve human interstellar travel exist within the next 100 years. Through the project, referred to as the “100 Year Starship” (100YSS), DARPA, the defense department’s premier research agency, awarded a $50,000 grant to assist the Foundation in creating “persistent, long-term, private-sector investment” toward the achievement of human travel and exploration of other star systems.

In her book “Find Where the Wind Goes,” Jemison writes for teen-agers about growing up on the south side of Chicago, cultivating her aspiration to be a scientist and professional dancer, her experiences as a medical student in Africa, and her history-making journey into space.

A strong, committed voice for science literacy, Jemison founded the international science camp “The Earth We Share” (TEWS) in 1994 to benefit 12- to 16-year-old students. It is the premier program of The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence.

Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier small, private universities, with more than 90 undergraduate majors, sequences, and courses of study, and 23 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Located in Delaware, Ohio, just minutes north of Ohio’s capital and largest city, Columbus, the university combines a globally focused curriculum with off-campus learning and leadership opportunities that translate classroom theory into real-world practice. OWU’s close-knit community of 1,850 students represents 47 states and 57 countries. Ohio Wesleyan was named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with distinction, is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” and is included on the “best colleges” lists of U.S. News & World Report and The Princeton Review. Learn more at

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