Today the first idol of my life passed away from pancreatic cancer. I remember checking out books at the public library when I was a kid… and I was only allowed five at a time. (What do you mean only five? Egypt? The Titanic? Equestrian Studies? Marine Biology? Astronomy? Mayans? Native Americans? How the hell am I supposed to choose between all of the things in the world to learn?!)
After I got over the initial shock of how little I was allowed to read in a short burst, my habit fell into checking out many large books with pictures of people floating in the middle of rooms. These rooms were inside space shuttles, but in the mind of a kid, they were a tangible place that I could visit someday.
In first grade, I was given an assignment: Be someone in history, dress up as them and tell your story. I knew exactly who I wanted to be… it was the only girl of the pictures of people in space: Sally Ride.
Thus the search began in thrift stores… searching for a denim jumpsuit that would emulate the casual uniforms worn by NASA astronauts (which was a superior material, but living in Arizona at the time, denim was tangible and similar in color). In the end, the outfit consisted of an iron-on American flag, and Sharpie with the name ‘Ride’ on the left side.
As a 7 year old, I gave a very simple speech on how Sally was the first American woman in space, and a brief biography of how she was from California and got a degree from Stanford in physics. My denim outfit looked pretty damn sharp.
As I went through my life and grew more interested in engineering and astronomy on the side, I would get a warm feeling in my heart when I heard about Sally Ride trying to deliver science, engineering, tech, and math to young women through Sally Ride Science. She certainly brought it to me.
I am now a woman with a degree in audio engineering, and astronomy is my second passion. I would love to be an astronaut… but if that time has passed, I would love to influence women to explore career paths in math, science, and engineering.
Sally showed me that I can do anything, and I want to do my part to carry on her legacy.
Thank you Sally, for being an inspiration to me from an early age. You gave me strength in knowing that all of the damn physics equations I had to do weren’t just making up symbols. More importantly, that women can do everything a guy can do, no matter what.
RIP Sally Kristen Ride. Your partner Tam was not a force to be reckoned with either.
Ladies, the world/universe is full of opportunity.