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UNH Commencement

First African-American Woman in Space Is the Keynote Speaker at UNH Commencement May 22

Contact: Lori Wright
UNH Media Relations

April 30, 2004

DURHAM, N.H. – University of New Hampshire graduates will share the celebration of their academic accomplishments with Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, who is the keynote speaker at the 134th Commencement Saturday, May 22, 2004.

Dr. Mae Jemison

The culmination of a student's academic career, commencement begins at 10 a.m. at Cowell Stadium Field, rain or shine. The ceremony is expected to run approximately two hours, and tickets are not needed.

Jemison blasted into orbit aboard the space shuttle Endeavour Sept. 12, 1992, the first woman of color to go into space. Now, founder and president of two technology companies, the space flight was just one of a series of accomplishments for this dynamic woman.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University in 1977, and a doctorate in medicine from Cornell University in 1981, Jemison completed her internship at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center in July 1982 and worked as a general practitioner with INA/Ross Loos MedicalGroup in Los Angeles until December 1982.

From January 1983 through June 1985, she was the Area Peace Corps Medical
Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa where she managed the health care delivery system for U.S. Peace Corps and U.S. Embassy personnel. After returning to the United States, Jemison joined CIGNA Health Plans of California and was working as a General Practitioner and attending graduate engineering classes in Los Angeles when selected to the astronaut program.

Jemison completed a one-year training and evaluation program in August 1988. She is qualified for assignment as a mission specialist on Space Shuttle flight crews and was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-47, Spacelab-J. A cooperative mission between the United States and Japan, the mission conducted experiments in life sciences and materials processing.

Since returning to Earth, Jemison has founded two companies, The Jemison Group and BioSentient. The Jemison Group is dedicated to the research, development and implementation of advanced technologies to alleviate the massive burdens of developing nations in the areas of health care, food production and the environment. BioSentient is a medical technology company that develops and markets mobile equipment worn to monitor the body’s vital signs and train people to respond favorably in stressful situations.

Commencement also will feature the awarding of an honorary doctor of humane letters to Carol Etherington. An assistant professor of nursing at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Etherington was the first nurse to serve on the U.S. Board of Médecins sans Frontieres (MSF USA/Doctors without Borders), and currently serves as the president of the U.S. Board.

Parking is available in Lots A, F, Mast Road and West Edge. Shuttles will provide transportation from the Mast Road and West Edge lots. Special services parking is available in B Lot for those candidates and guest with mobility impairments.