- Posted July 23, 2012 by
Vero Beach, Florida
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This iReport is part of an assignment:
Light Years: Your view of space and stars
Sally Ride Inspired me to Dream!
Sally Ride launched her own dreams in 1983. At that point she propelled mine too.
Sally was a tennis player who determined her talents were not worthy of Wimbledon. Instead of being deterred, she dreamed of bigger things, like space.
In 1983 I was jumping off my own launch pad. I left my home town of Centerville, Ohio. The daughter of an engineer and a child, who had spent a lot of time at the Dayton Air Force Museum, I was looking to find my own way. That path was a new frontier where no one knew me, yet I could become the person I yearned to be, an individual.
I was destined to play tennis at a small college in Michigan. Like Ride, my talents were not worthy of sponsorships. However, I was optimistic.
Little did I know that her interest in robotics would later be of concern to my son who has one hand?
It’s a fascinating story of how a young girl from Ohio is inspired by another woman’s actions. It was a defining moment for what others would eventually define as a “Moon Struck Moment.”
In 1983 I was departing to college in Michigan. I had enjoyed a close-knit community where I was known and supported by many. It was my choice to venture out of that womb to a place where no one knew me. Inspired by Ride, I wanted to test my wings.
I got my wish. I made new friends and found my way without my parents being able to rescue me. I made it on my own at Albion College (Albion, Michigan) a small liberal arts college.
In the years that followed, I sort of forgot about Ride and her inspiration.
Then, like karma, her influence returned with rocket force.
Everything changed in the spring of 1986. I had enrolled in a “Semester at Sea.” The program, at that time, was managed by the University of Pittsburg. It was at the same time that Sally Ride was training for her third mission when the “Challenger” blew up.
My life was forever transformed the day I stepped onto the S.S. Universe, known to many as "Semester at Sea."
I traveled on this floating university to nine countries with 465 other students from across the United States and around the world from January through May of 1986. This was of course before the days of the internet. We had little knowledge of what was going on in the world while we were at sea. Quite frankly, I had never really cared about world events. My life was all about parties and shopping for the latest dress by Laura Ashley.
I will never forget stepping off the boat in Cadiz, Spain and seeing the cover of a Time magazine that detailed the horrific explosion of the space shuttle “Challenger.” I just stood there and cried. I could not comprehend how it happened.
It was then that I thought of Sally Ride and how through about her efforts. She was trying to teach all people, especially women, how they are connected to something bigger than themselves.
I think prior to this point I thought everything came with a guarantee. I never really thought about life beyond myself, much less, our universe.
Sally Ride is an icon to me and to all American women to dream. She was a pioneer to encourage small town girls to think big. Most of all she got me to wonder how I fit into the world and what I had to contribute.
I don’t think I ever really appreciated all the times my Dad dragged me to the Dayton Air Force Museum, now known as the, “United Air Force Museum,” while he read every single sign I longed to leave. What I didn’t know then was that he and Sally Ride were planting seeds for me to dream for something bigger – to imagine what I could be beyond myself.
The attached photos show me and my son, Wyatt, at a recent visit to the United States Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Just to note, now that I am older, I do read every sign. My son yells, “Come on Mom! Let’s go!” I smile and give thanks to Sally Ride and to my Father. Thanks for teaching me to dream.