Matthew was born on October 17, 1956, in Decatur, Alabama, but she grew up in Chicago, Illinois. She was especially interested in anthropology, archaeology and astronomy. Luckily, her parents encouraged those interests. That encouragement drove her to excel. She graduated from high school at 16. Then she earned degrees in chemical engineering and African-American studies at Stanford University.
Later, she graduated from Cornell University's medical school.
In 1981, she joined NASA's space program in Houston, Texas.
And in 1988, Jemison realized her biggest dream: She finally became an astronaut! Just four years later, she was named science mission specialist on an Endeavour flight. Today, Jamison encourages young people — especially girls — to study the sciences. Her life example teaches us to follow our dreams, no matter how great.