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The Dartmouth
June 23, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Mae Jemison makes president list

Engineer, physician, former astronaut and Dartmouth Environmental Studies Professor Mae Jemison recently learned that she is one of 20 women on the White House Project's presidential ballot.

The White House Project is a non-partisan organization that has created a ballot containing the names of 20 women it believes show a gift for leadership in a variety of fields, the project's Communications Director James Devitt told The Dartmouth.

The White House Project released 8 million ballots in mid-October and voting through mail or the White House Ballot's site continued until Nov. 15. Devitt said the votes will be tallied and the top five winners will be announced early next year.

The project aims to make the public aware of the ubiquity of women's leadership and to create a climate conducive to women launching viable presidential campaigns, according to Devitt.

"What is very good about White House Project is that it brings to our attention that we have so many women in this country capable of leadership, yet we haven't taken full advantage of these talents," Jemison said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The White House project cites research showing that 76 percent of Americans feel ready to elect a woman president, yet many cannot specify people they feel would be appropriate for the job.

The members of the list come from the fields of education, business, science, advocacy and labor and were chosen by a group of academics on a basis of their leadership skill and level of accomplishment, Devitt said.

Jemison's great variety of experience and leadership roles led to her selection as a candidate, Devitt said. The project notified Jemison of her selection by the project in September.

"I'm honored and I was surprised to be included. Individuals had nothing to do with whether they were chosen or not," Jemison said. "I'm excited they decided to include people in scientific and technological fields in their list of possibilities."

Jemison worked for National Aeronautics and Space Administration, helping design in-flight experiments, and became the first black woman in space on Sept. 12, 1992.

When she was just 16 years old, she entered Stanford University and majored in chemical engineering and African-American studies. She received her Doctorate of Medicine from Cornell Medical School and then joined the Peace Corps, working in Sierra Leone and Liberia as a medical officer.

Jemison worked as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, during which time she applied for her position with NASA. She also appeared as a transport officer on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and was named one of People Magazine's 50 most beautiful people for 1993.

Dartmouth invited her to teach a course on "Space Age Technology in Developing Countries" in 1993. Jemison has also taught various other environmental studies courses at the College, including one this summer on "Teaching Technology and Sustainable Development."

Last year at the College, she organized an international science camp for adolescents from around the world called The Earth We Share. The camp aims to foster science literacy.

Jemison founded the Jemison Institute at the College in 1995. The purpose of the institute is to research and implement advanced technology in developing countries, she said. It is currently working with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a framework for sustainable energy development between the United States and Africa.

In addition, she founded the Jemison Group, Inc. in Houston, Texas, an organization which teaches students the importance of merging disciplines and working in teams in order to solve problems.