Mae Jemison was born on October 17th, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama. At 3 years old, she moved along with her family and two older siblings (Ada Jemison Bullock, and Charles Jemison) to Chicago, because of better education opportunities there. During her school years, she spent a lot of time in the library learning about science and astronomy in particular, and her parents were extremely supportive of her early educational pursuits, even though many of her teachers over the years were not. When she graduated from her High school at 16 years old with a National Achievement Scholarship, she decided to go to Stanford University to learn biomedical engineering. While she was at Stanford, she involved herself in many extracurricular activities, such as becoming the head of the Black Students Union, while also doing theater and dance. In 1977, she received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, and went on to the Cornell University Medical College, where she studied abroad in countries such as Cuba, Kenya and Thailand, learning and providing medical care. In 1981, she received her M.D.
After that, she spent some time interning at a Medical center, and as a Peace Corps medical officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia. However, in 1983, she returned to the U.S. to follow her long time dream of becoming an astronaut, and applied to the space program. Although the program was delayed after the Challenger incident of 1986, she reapplied in 1987 and was accepted. In 1992, she flew her only space mission on board Endeavor as part of mission STS47 as the designated Science Mission Specialist. During her 190 hours in space, she conducted experiments on motion sickness and weightlessness on all of the crew, including herself. However, in 1993, she resigned from NASA to follow other interesting prospects elsewhere.
After spending some time as a Environmental Studies professor at Dartmouth College, and founding a two companies, including the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence and BioSentient Corp she now is a professor at Cornell University.