A few months ago, my mom sent me an old homework assignment that she had found--a paper that I wrote and illustrated in the second grade. The topic: my hero, Sally Ride. It was 1983, and Ride was about to become the first American woman in space. For a little girl, it was exciting. And Ride's amazing first space flight sparked my imagination, inspiring a life-long interest in the space program. From that day on, I wanted to be an astronaut. I loved science and tuned in for as many shuttle launches as I could. I even went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
I was, and still am, a space geek. I didn’t become an astronaut, but I continue to learn and explore at the Smithsonian, working on exhibitions about everything--from Latin music to the Muppets, from giant squid to the science of the spacesuit.
It’s those space-related projects that have really let my inner geek shine, and I could go on forever about meeting real astronauts and visiting NASA facilities for our traveling exhibits. Regardless of the topic, however, I’ve continued to be curious, and I hope the stories that we create here at SITES help to spark the imaginations of others--just like Sally Ride did for me. So, it’s with sadness that I say good bye to my hero. Thank you for inspiring me, Sally.
--Jennifer Schommer, SITES Assistant Director of Public Relations