10 Things to Know: Sally Ride

The first American woman (and possibly the first LGBT person) in space will receive a posthumous honor from the president this week.

BY Michelle Garcia

November 19 2013 8:00 AM ET

The late astronaut and astrophysicist Sally Ride will receive a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom this week for her work not only for NASA as the first American woman in space, but also for encouraging countless people to engage in the sciences. It was only after her death from pancreatic cancer in 2012 that most people learned that Ride had a partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaughnessy, with whom she also collaborated on books and her company, Sally Ride Science. We take a look back at Ride's life, her accomplishments, and how she changed what it means to be a scientist.

 

1. Sally Ride began to excel in math and science at the prestigious Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles. "It was probably very important to my future. I didn't have a lot of confidence in myself," she told USA Today in 2006. "I did well in math in high school, but I didn't know if I would be able to do well at math in college. At Westlake, it was all girls in the trigonometry, calculus and chemistry classes. That environment gave me the confidence and motivation to declare a physics major in college. Who knows if I had gone to public high school? It affected a lot of my friends. Others made it and became doctors, so it's hard to say." The subject she liked the least? Home economics, back when it was required for girls. "Can you imagine having to cook and eat tuna casserole at 8 a.m.?"

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