19. Cady Coleman: Don't Let Perceptions Fool You
"I think it's hard for people to think that a real person is going to get to leave the planet. And so that, when it really happened, it was so amazing." Astronaut Cady Coleman
Despite a passion for science, veteran NASA Astronaut Cady Coleman says that it never occurred to her that being an astronaut was for her, in part because she couldn't see it. Giving the picture of the Mercury 7 astronauts as an example, what she saw were older men, not people who looked like her.
That was until 1983, while studying chemistry at MIT, Cady met astronaut Sally Ride. It made Cady think, "I want that job."
In 1992, Cady was chosen as a NASA Astronaut, in a class of 3 women and 21 men. On October 20, 1995, Cady took her first flight to space (becoming the first female commander of a space mission in 1999) and, while now back on Earth, she has yet to stop exploring, experimenting, inspiring, and impacting.
"I think people are always going to need some reinforcement that amazing things are possible and that there's still a large part of the population that we need to get the message to. That is the girls and minorities, that they could be one of the people that is going to make that happen and that they better be ready."
Having seen Cady speak in front of crowds of all shapes and sizes, whether dozens of women in data science or hundreds of stakeholders convening to push sustainable materials forward, Cady stays true to the message of diversity and inclusivity. While he work in space made history, I admire Cady for how she is using her platform today to bring people who aren't traditionally invited into the room.
After 33 years at NASA, 3 space missions, and 180 days in space, Cady announced her retirement in December 2016, stressing the need for innovative problem-solving and working in diverse teams to solve our biggest challenges.
I admire former Astronaut Cady Coleman's courage, taking a giant leap for humankind and women in her work in space. I also admire her commitment to inclusivity, and that Cady, regardless of where she is or what she's doing, will make a point to stress it's importance. Progress isn't easy; it takes a lot of work, time, and collaboration. It's an understatement to say that Cady Coleman understands hard work. By far, she is doing her part to ensure that we keep moving forward and can progress to the next frontier, a better existence for humankind as a whole.