She’s the third African American woman to fly into space. This International Women’s Day, we’re highlighting Charlotte’s Joan Higginbotham.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Joan Higginbotham never dreamed of going into space.
“I wanted to be an electrical engineer,” Higginbotham said.
Higginbotham thought a career at IBM would be her next stop following college in 1987.
“They weren’t really hiring engineers they were going to bring me on as a salesperson and move me over eventually,” Higginbotham said.
“I got a call from a manager one night asking me if I wanted to move to Florida to launch space shuttles and that’s kind of how it all began,” Higginbotham said.
In 1987, Joan Higginbotham began her career at the Kennedy Space Center Florida as a payload.
Throughout her nine-year tenure, she worked her way through numerous promotions resulting in her participating in 53 space shuttle launches.
“I prepared myself, I went to school got more degrees, I took different courses, I took different opportunities when they came my way from a career perspective,” Higginbotham said.
Her work ethic then led her to the Johnson Space Center in 1996 after being selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA.
On December 6, 2006, Higginbotham became the third African-American woman to travel into space.
That day she was a part of a 12-day mission on the International Space Station clocking in 20 hours and 45 minutes.
“If given the chance I would do it all over again,” she said. “I’d fly tomorrow if they called me up and asked me to.”
Now in retirement, she calls Charlotte home.
Higginbotham works at Collins Aerospace where she encourages women to pursue a career in STEM.
“I really feel that it’s incumbent on me to get those girls really encouraged to say look I did it, it was hard it was challenging but I did it and if I can do it I know you can do it,” Higginbotham said.
This Article firstly Publish on www.wcnc.com