The first is Tenley Albright. She was born in 1935. By age eight she was already becoming a skilled ice skater, but was stricken with a severe case of polio at eleven. Despite the disease, it was a mere two years later that, through her dedication to training and therapy, Tenley won her first ice skating national title.
Tenley went on to become world champion five consecutive times and was the first U.S. woman to win gold at the Olympics.
The second is Dr. Mae Jemison. We all hear about Neil Armstrong, about Buzz Aldred, about fantastic American men who go into space. But Mae is an incredible person who deserves a minute or two in the spotlight. As for background, Mae was the youngest of three in her family, and she fought past roadblocks to woman and minorities all the years of her life so she could achieve her dreams.
Stanford University accepted her at age SIXTEEN, and she received a degree in Chemical Engineering and an associates in African and Afro-American studies. She got her Doctorate from Cornell Medical College in Medicine in 1981. She traveled to Cuba, Kenya, and Thailand for internships. She was invited to teach a course at Dartmouth in 1993, and an elementary school built in Detroit was named after her. She even appeared in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
So who was Dr. Mae Jemison? Why do I consider her among the greatest to ever walk the earth, leaders who overcame hardship and opened doors for those that would follow in their footsteps?
It is because, in September of 1992, aboard the spaceship Endeavor, she became the first African-American woman to go into space.
As I said before, these two women are examples of life leaders; of leaders who didn't let anything stop them, not others telling them they couldn't, not a crippling and life-threatening disease, not their gender, not their race, and certainly not circumstance. They have led the way along the treacherous path to achieving dreams, proving time and time again that any dragon can be defeated and that anyone who believes and does enough can have a happy ending.