I felt very honored, and I knew that people would be watching very closely, and I felt it was very, very important that I do a good job.
Sally Ride could have rested on her laurels and simply enjoyed her historical status as the first American woman in space. Instead, she spent years working hard to build scientific education programs, raise awareness about the numbers of women in science and actively encourage girls to explore STEM fields. She was smart, strong and spirited, and she believed in people’s potential. She was the definition of heroine. She was the best.
When I first wanted to go to Africa, everybody laughed at me: We didn’t have any money, World War II was raging and Africa was ‘the Dark Continent,’ but most importantly I was a girl. ‘Jane, get real: Girls don’t do this kind of thing, living with animals in the forest.’ But my mother was a very strong woman, and she used to say, ‘If you really want something and you work hard, take advantage of opportunity and never give up, you will find a way.’ That’s the message I’ve taken to children, particularly girls, all around the world.