Dr. Mae Jemison broke more than the sound barrier when she climbed aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 1992. She became the first woman of color to travel into space.

She will be the keynote speaker at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation’s 2017 Community Meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 23 at Miller Auditorium on the campus of Western Michigan University.

Jemison, who trained as an engineer before becoming a physician, is an advocate for STEM education and founded The Earth We Share science camp. She’s also the author of several books, including Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life.

At the 2017 Community Meeting she’ll recount her inspirational story and talk about the importance of STEM education, especially for girls and people of color.

Says Jemison, "As we face the future, space exploration is now as much a part of the landscape of the whole world as it once was for the young girl I used to be, gazing at the stars over Chicago. It is part of our yesterday, today and tomorrow. It is part of our human heritage — which is our responsibility not to forsake.

"That is a heritage some mistakenly see as harshly separating us from the rest of nature; yet our insatiable curiosity propels us to try to grasp, to understand, to know the secrets of the universe — and thereby once again belong."

Sponsored by PNC, the 2017 Community Meeting is free and open to the public, and is part of the University Center for the Humanities at Western Michigan University’s 2016/2017 series: Science and the Human Endeavor.

Sign up to attend the 2017 Community Meeting