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Lt. General Patricia Horoho

Born in Fort Bragg, Lieutenant General Patricia Horoho graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1982, receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing. She went on to attend the University of Pittsburgh, graduating in 1992 with a Master of Science Degree as a Clinical Trauma Nurse Specialist. In 2011 Horoho was sworn in as the first nurse, female Surgeon General. This historic day in US history was preceded by several stellar accomplishments, among them: named one of the top one hundred nurses in the state of North Carolina commanded the Army Nurse Corps received a two-grade promotion from colonel to major general served as assistant deputy for Healthcare Management Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff, and retired Colonel praised Horoho saying, “She’s earned this extremely important leadership position, not only because…

Mae Jemison

In 1992, engineer and physician Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman astronaut when she took flight aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. A lifelong lover of math and science, as a child she thought space travel would be a commonplace occurrence. Encouraged by her parents in her early years, Jemison studied science and its connection to nature. A skilled, avid dancer as well, she chose to pursue her love of science over her love of dance because, “You can always dance if you’re a doctor, but you can’t doctor if you’re a dancer.” Always dreaming big and never one to back down from a challenge, Jemison overcame many obstacles in her pursuit of her dream of becoming an astronaut. An elementary school teacher asked if she meant to answer nurse instead of scientist in response to the question of what she wanted to be when she grew up. Not…

Valentina Tereshkova

Forty-eight. That represents the number times Valentina Tereshkova orbited the earth on her historic three-day trip into outer space. She holds the added distinction of being the first civilian to fly in space. In 1962, because she was already an accomplished parachutist, Valentina was selected to join the female cosmonaut corps from a group of more than four hundred applicants. Born in central Russia, Tereshkova started school at the age of eight. By sixteen, she had left school and completed her education via correspondence classes. Following her school years, she became interested in parachuting, training in that and in skydiving. She completed her initial parachute jump at the age of 22, soon becoming an accomplished parachutist. This is the skill that opened the door for her selection as a cosmonaut. Intensive training for her space flight consisted of “weightless flights, isolation tests, centrifuge tests, rocket theory, spacecraft engineering, 120…

Josephine Baker

Bearing many monikers – Black Pearl, Bronze Venus, Creole Goddess – Josephine Baker was the first woman of color to star in a major motion picture and to become an international entertainer. Born Freda Josephine McDonald she was adopted by former slaves of African and Native American ancestry and raised by them in Little Rock, Arkansas. Themselves stage performers, they introduced their daughter to the stage when she was only a year old. Josephine was persistently slovenly and underfed as a child due to her family’s impoverishment. She had very little education, attending elementary school only up to fifth grade. At eight-years-old, Josephine started working as a live-in maid for wealthy white families. Fleeing abusive employers, one of whom burned her hands after she put too much soap in the laundry, she often lived on the streets, sleeping in cardboard boxes, eating food out of garbage cans, and dancing on…

Elizabeth Blackwell – First Female M.D.

Although born in Britain, Elizabeth Blackwell has the distinction of being the first woman to receive a medical degree in the US. Making pioneering strides for women in medicine, she went on to become a social and moral reformer in the US and her native UK. Following in her footsteps, her sister Emily was the third woman in the US to earn a medical degree. One of nine children, Elizabeth and Emily had a happy, but financially troubled childhood. In an effort to bolster their financial standing, the family started its own school, The Cincinnati English and French Academy for Young Ladies. Elizabeth then went on to accept a position teaching music in North Carolina to save for her medical school tuition and expenses. Elizabeth Blackwell’s greatest ambition was to attend medical school. Of her aspirations, she said, “My mind is fully made up. I have not the slightest hesitation…

Julia de Burgos

Puerto Rican poet, Julia de Burgos was more than a master writer and poet. She was also a tireless advocate for Puerto Rican independence. The oldest in a family of thirteen children, Julia de Burgos was born to a farming family in Carolina, Puerto Rico, though her father also served in the National Guard. Per Burgos, her childhood played a large part in her writings. She said, “My childhood was all a poem in the river, and a river in the poem of my first dreams.” Her family eventually relocated to Wiedras, where she won a scholarship to University High School. Following that graduation, she attended the University of Puerto Rico intending to become a teacher. She graduated at only nineteen years old with a degree in education and taught elementary school. She retired from teaching when she married Ruben Rodrigues Beauchamp in 1936. Sadly, this marriage ended in…

J. K. Rowling

The minute you hear the name JK Rowling, you probably think of Harry Potter. After publishing and producing the books and movies about the adolescent wizard, JK Rowling shot to stardom and fame. The Harry Potter series quickly became the best-selling book series in history. JK Rowling was not always as successful and prominent in the writing community as she is today. Her life is truly a classic tale of rags-to-riches. Rowlings was first inspired to write the famed series while on a train trip to London. Unfortunately, she soon started on a years-long unfortunate turn of events. In rapid succession, she lost her mother to death, gave birth to her first child, and was divorced from her first husband. She soon found herself living on state welfare benefits for nearly five years before the first Harry Potter book was published in 2007. Six sequels followed, each more anticipated…

Soledad O’Brien

Born to immigrant parents – her father was Australian, while her mother was Cuban – Soledada O’Brien is a broadcast journalist and executive producer. O’Brien is also a television anchor and correspondent. She has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Al Jazeera America, and HBO. She has also co-anchored CNN’s American Morning and was the anchor of the CNN morning news program, Starting Point. Because Interracial marriage remained illegal in Maryland until 1967, O’Brien’s parents married in 1958 in Washington, D.C., where marriage laws were not as restrictive. One of six children, she valued education and enrolled in Harvard-Radcliffe College in 1984 as a pre-med and English and American literature major. She completed her education at Harvard University in 2000 and embarked on a career as a medical reporter with WXKS-FM in Boston. She followed this position with a job as Associate Producer at WBZ-TV in Boston. After that, she was…

Rachel Carson

American marine biologist, Rachel Louise Carson was the author of Silent Spring, a groundbreaking book that is nationally credited with advancing the global environmental movement. Other books on conservation by Rachel Carson include Under The Sea Around Us, The Edge of the Sea, and Witness for Nature. She was also the author or numerous articles, one of which was deemed too good for the publication it was intended for, and turned into one of her award-winning books. Rachel started her career as an aquatic biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. Her environmental attention turned to conservation and she fought to bring environmental concerns to the attention of the American people. She was born in 1907 on a small family farm in Pennsylvania. An avid reader as a child, she began writing stories as young as eight years old. Her first story was published when she was only ten…

Michelle Bachelet

Verónica Michelle Bachelet Jeria had an unusual road to her second office as President of Chile. Bachelet was originally elected to the presidency in 2006 becoming the first woman to serve as Chilean President. Following that original, and historic, term of office, she was appointed to serve as the first executive director of the newly created United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. In 2014, she ran successfully for a second term. In addition to being the first woman president, she was also the first person to win the presidential election twice via competitive elections. Bachelet was born in a middle class suburb of Santiago. Her family was a military one and young Michelle spent her childhood traveling all over Chile from military base to military base. In 1962, the family relocated to the US, returning to Chile in 1964. She attended the University of…