LGBTQ+ Pride Month Spotlight: Sally Ride

June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and to celebrate today we are highlighting an LGBTQ+ trailblazer, Sally Ride!

Sally Ride is most well known for being the first the first woman-identifying NASA Astronaut and the first American woman in space (and the third woman in space globally). She is also the first known LGBTQ+ astronaut. Sally was born on May 26th, 1951, in Los Angeles, California, and attended three colleges in her undergraduate career. Sally began her studies at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania before transferring to The University of California, Los Angeles to pursue a career as a professional tennis player. While at UCLA she studied Shakespeare and quantum mechanics, and she was the only woman majoring in physics. She eventually decided that professional tennis wasn’t for her and made a final transfer to Stanford University, where she graduated in 1973 with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. Sally continued her studies at Stanford, earning a Master of Science in Physics in 1975 and her PhD in 1978.

In 1977, Sally spotted a news article about NASA recruiting women for astronaut training and applied. She made it through to the Finalist category and completed her training in 1979, making her eligible for spaceflight. In 1982, Sally was selected to be a crewmember of NASA’s seventh Space Shuttle mission, mission STS-7, after serving as a ground communicator for missions STS-2 and STS-3. In 1983, the Space Shuttle she worked on, Challenger, lifted off, making her the first American woman in space. She was also the youngest NASA astronaut in space. She went on to ride in several other space missions, spending a total of 343 hours in space, and left NASA in 1987.

After leaving NASA, Sally conducted research for universities such as Stanford and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), going on to become a Professor of Physics at UCSD. Sally also became the Director of the California Space Institute. In 2001, she founded Sally Ride Science, an organization that still exists today that works to increase interest and literacy in STEM for girls. After her passing in 2012, her longtime partner Tam O’Shaughnessy came forward about their 27-year long relationship, making Sally the first known LGBTQ+ astronaut.

If you’re interested in a career in psychics or the STEM field as a whole and want guidance or advice, make an appointment with one of our Career Coaches!

Photo courtesy of NASA – Sally Ride Image Gallery

By Avery Caya
Avery Caya Graduate Assistant, CLAS/Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (They/Them/Theirs)