Jessica Watkins, The Only Black Woman In NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Class

In 1987, Mae Jemison became the first African American woman to be accepted into NASA’s astronaut training program. Now 30 years later, Jessica Watkins is the only Black woman to be selected for NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and could become the sixth Black woman astronaut.

NASA made their official announcement Wednesday. They chose 12 individuals out of a record number of 18,300 applicants. Watkins isn’t just the only Black woman who made it among the exclusive group, she is also the youngest.

The 29 year-old geologist was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland but raised in Lafayette, Colorado. Watkins earned her Bachelor’s degree in Geological and Environmental Sciences from Stanford University, and a Doctorate in Geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Her acceptance into NASA’s astronaut training program seems to be a full circle moment, as Watkins has dreamed of becoming an astronaut since she was nine years old.

Watkins told Blastr in an interview:

“The word that comes to mind is certainly honored to be considered in that type of role. I would certainly love to be able to be a representative for the amazing people who have gotten me to this point, including family and friends, as well as colleagues, especially in the planetary geology field and represent what they have contributed to the field and helped me get here. It certainly is a little bit overwhelming but I’m excited about the opportunity.”

Once Watkins completes NASA’s two-year astronaut training program she will be the sixth Black woman to become an astronaut, joining the ranks of Mae Jemison (the first African American woman to travel into space), Stephanie Wilson, Yvonne Cagle, Joan Higginbotham, and Jeanette J. Epps, who is set to become the first African American crew member of the International Space Station.


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I am a digital content creator and have worked in the digital space for more than ten years. "Robinrazzi" is a nickname given from a former colleague because I'm known for having a camera in hand at all times. I have traveled the world covering entertainment events, celebrities and anything trending. I earned my BA in Communications from Penn State and a MS in Marketing from Johns Hopkins University. I currently serve as Director of Digital Content for WHUR and the Howard University Radio Network.

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