America’s first woman in space and former UC San Diego professor achieves another first as Sally Ride Science, her youth education program celebrates its 20th anniversary

(San Diego, CA, April 13, 2021) The United States Mint announced the names of the first two women to be honored on coins issued under the American Women Quarters Program. Famed writer Maya Angelou and acclaimed astronaut Dr. Sally Ride will be the first distinguished American women celebrated on the reverse of the program’s circulating quarters.

“Sally would be so moved by this great honor,” said Tam O’Shaughnessy, Ride’s life partner and cofounder of Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego. “It’s especially fitting that it comes during the 20th-anniversary celebration for Sally Ride Science. This tribute reflects Sally’s legacy not only as a trailblazing astronaut but also as a champion of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields.”

The new Sally Ride quarter will begin circulating next year. The Mint will annually issue up to five different reverse designs emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of a prominent American woman. The quarters will be released over the four-year period beginning in 2022 and continuing through 2025.

“As a woman who literally used her name and image as capital to launch an innovative youth science education program, it’s fitting and touching that her image will be emblazoned on actual currency. She’s priceless to us, but this really sets an inspiring example for those following in her footsteps,” said Dr. Edward Abeyta, associate dean of Education and Community Outreach at UC San Diego Extension. He oversees the division charged with continuing Dr. Ride’s legacy by managing the Sally Ride Science program.

After America’s first woman in space retired from NASA, she had plenty of opportunities to capitalize on her celebrity, but she preferred to keep a low profile.

It was 18 years after she made history that she decided to build a legacy in education. In 2001, while teaching physics at UC San Diego, Sally Ride decided the time was right to use her famous name for a cause she cared about—narrowing the gender gap in science and engineering. She would do it by cofounding a company called Sally Ride Science. Ride and her cofounders knew what research proved later—girls are easily disenfranchised from pursuing science because they don’t think science is for girls.

“I felt that this was something that was really worth using my name and using the visibility that I could bring to it,” Ride said later. “It felt worthwhile.”

Sally Ride Science Junior Academy, sallyridescience.ucsd.edu/junior-academy

The summer academy provides remote, online STEAM workshops for students entering 3rd-12th grade. During these workshops, students assume the roles of space explorer, marine biologist, computer programmer and more as they immerse themselves in hands-on projects. The program is now open for enrollment.

Women in Leadership Discussion

Sally Ride Science hosted the first discussion in 2018 at UC San Diego to celebrate the release of the U.S. Postal Service’s Sally Ride stamp. Panelists at the annual event have included tennis great Billie Jean King, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former first daughter Chelsea Clinton. More than 250,000 people have viewed the events on UCTV. This year’s event will take place virtually and debut May 20.

For more on the United States Mint announcement, click here.

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