Jeanette Epps: She’s Out of This World

June 5 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Women in Space

Today’s On The Dot is so inspirational that there should be a more powerful word to describe it. How about inspirational times infinity? Let’s go with that! We’re talking about women in science, and more specifically, about women boldly coming face to face with the final frontier: space. More and more these days, articles, books and movies are exploring the remarkable stories of these pioneering women, who have long been ignored in the history books. In fact, some of these amazing women are now even being immortalized in toy form, with the long-loved Lego company recently introducing its Women of NASA play set. Four instrumental NASA women are commemorated in super cool Lego form, including Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space, and Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. Let’s all do the moonwalk to celebrate!


One particularly awe-inspiring space lady is astronaut Peggy Whitson. When the International Space Station lost a vital piece of cloth shielding that required patching, Peggy worked to patch the hole, a major repair job that took seven hours. The fix was also significant because it meant Peggy set a record for the most spacewalks by any woman—eight—and broke the female-astronaut record for the most accumulated time spent spacewalking, with a remarkable 53 hours as a spacewalker! At 57 years old, Peggy has spent more than 500 days off the planet Earth—more than any other woman in the universe!

WOMAN TO WATCH: Jeanette Epps, NASA Astronaut and First African-American International Space Station Crew Member

Let’s keep the inspiration flyin’ with today’s incomparable Woman to Watch. Her name is Jeanette Epps, and though you may not have heard of her before, she is set to make some astronomical achievements. A NASA astronaut since 2009, Jeanette will become the first African-American crew member on the International Space Station when she soars into space in May 2018.

Jeanette’s determination to rise to the stratosphere began when she was just 9 years old. She credits her older brother for planting the seed in her brain that if she worked hard enough, she could become an aerospace engineer and even an astronaut. She believed science was her path, but doubted NASA would ever want her as an astronaut. But through determination and a life spent learning, learning and learning as much as she could about physics, science and space, Jeanette is finally cashing in on her childhood dream.

Her career path to outer space began with Jeanette studying physics in college, then earning her doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. During that time, Jeanette became an esteemed NASA Graduate Student Researchers Project fellow, all the while publishing her research and conference articles. Later, while working for Ford Motor Company as a technical specialist, Jeanette received a U.S. patent for her work on a collision-detection safety system.

And then the Central Intelligence Agency came calling. (Seriously, how amazing is this woman?!) She worked as a technical operations officer for the CIA for seven years before joining the space gang at NASA.

In correlation with the incredible film Hidden Figures, Jeanette provides some insight for girls and women interested in STEM. Honestly, it’s something I think we all need to be reminded of: that everything new we learn is hard at first, but over time, if we stay the course, understanding even the most intricate ideas can become seamless.

We are over the moon about the success of this remarkable woman, and wish Jeanette the best on her historic venture into space. We’re certain it will be out of this world!


Let’s finish today with a quote by role model Sally Ride. She said:

“I think it’s important for little girls growing up, and young women, to have one in every walk of life. So, from that point of view, I’m proud to be a role model!”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

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