Growing up, Sally Ride wanted to be a professional tennis player. Deciding she “wasn’t good enough,” she became a physicist instead and joined NASA in 1978 as part of the first astronaut class to accept women.

On June 18, 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman in space aboard the seventh Challenger Mission.

I was hoping it would be me.

In eighth grade English class, my teacher asked us to write a “Goals and Dreams” paper, from age 13 to 63. My pie-in-the-sky list included teaching and writing, as well as being the first female astronaut and president.

(Technically, I know there’s still time for me to become the first woman president, but the job lost its appeal sometime during the Reagan and/or Bush years.)

Yet when Sally Ride blasted into space 29 years ago today, I was front row, center, cheering her on, thrilled that a woman was finally “going where no woman had gone before…” Except that this statement isn’t quite accurate.

The Russians had put a female astronaut in space a full 20 years and 2 days before the Americans trusted that a woman could do the job. What’s with that?

In 1984, I applied to the TISP—The Teacher in Space Project. I really, really, wanted to go, and was devastated when my poor eyesight prevented me from advancing through the selection process. I was beyond devastated when I watched, along with the rest of the world, as Christa McAuliffe lost her life in the Challenger disaster in January, 1986.

But today is Sally’s day, and I whole-heartedly celebrate her accomplishments. And I am proud as punch that Dr. Sally Ride is now creating educational programs to inspire girls to pursue their interest in math and science.

Not good enough? Don’t you believe it!

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