First American woman in space to speak at UniverCity

Sally Ride will give her presentation, "Reach for the Stars," Friday at 8 p.m. in the forum tent

The first American woman in space will be the last keynote speaker featured at this year's UniverCity.Sally Ride will be speaking at the forum tent today at 8 p.m. As a former NASA astronaut, Ride flew on two space shuttle Challenger missions and created NASA's Office of Exploration. Currently, Ride is a professor of physics at University of California at San Diego. She also serves as director of the California Space Institute, which is based at UCSD. The institute conducts and supports space research.Ball State professor of physics Ruth Howes said Ride's presentation topic is "Reach for the Stars," but Howe said she did not know what exactly Ride would be speaking about."I hope she will talk about her work with NASA," Howes said.While Ride is the last keynote speaker, Provost Beverley Pitts said she expects Ride to equal the week's other lectures."There is probably no greater role model for women interested in science," Pitts said. "I think she will be a smash."Beside speaking at the Forum Tent, Ride will also attend an open house for middle-school girls in the Cooper Science Building today.Lorraine Sinclair, co-director of the UniverCity steering committee, said when the group was deciding who they should bring to speak, Ride stood out among the others.Sinclair said the committee was looking for a woman scientist who could connect with youth."She was a no-brainer when it comes to women in the sciences," Sinclair said. "She was a perfect fit."Besides having traveled to space and researching physics, Ride has also become an author. The former astronaut has written four children's books which advocate improved science education.Ride has also won numerous awards, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service, the Women's Research and Education Institute's American Woman Award and the National Spaceflight Medal twice. Although Ride has traveled to space, written books and won awards, she never accomplished a goal of her younger days.Ride started playing tennis at 10 years of age, and became an excellent tennis player, according to Biography.com.The Web site stated that Ride won a partial tennis scholarship to Westlake School for Girls in Los Angeles and was a ranked player on the U.S. junior tennis circuit.After graduating from high school, Ride attended Swarthmore College, but soon dropped out to pursue a career in professional tennis. According to the Web site, after three months of practice, Ride decided she was not good enough to become a successful tennis pro.Ride quit tennis and enrolled at Stanford University. At Stanford, she earned four degrees, including her doctorate in physics. In 1978, Ride applied to NASA's astronaut program after reading an advertisement in a newspaper, according to a NASA-related Web site. More than 8,000 men and women applied to the space program that year. Six of the 35 individuals accepted that year were women, one of whom was Ride.On June 18, 1983, Ride became the first American woman to orbit Earth when she flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Her second flight was also aboard Challenger in 1984. NASA selected Ride as a member of the team chosen to investigate the explosion of Challenger in 1986. Since her retirement from NASA in 1987, Ride has been named a Science Fellow at the Center for International Security and Arms Control at Stanford University.Ride has also been involved with space.com and EarthKAM, an Internet-based NASA project that allows middle-school classes to shoot and download photos of the Earth from space.Ride's most recent enterprise is Imaginary Lines, an organization she founded to provide support for young girls who are +â-æ or might become +â-æ interested in science, math and technology. One instrument of this mission is the Sally Ride Science Club, which enables upper-elementary and middle-school girls to consult with experts, exchange ideas and collaborate with peers, according to the Imaginary Lines Web site."(Ride) is a great example of what women can do," Howes said. 002D5

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