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Steven J. Niven

astronaut, was born Joan Elizabeth Miller Higginbotham in Chicago, Illinois, to Inez and William Higginbotham. She graduated from Chicago's highly selective Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in 1982, one year after future First Lady Michelle Obama. Higginbotham, who had excelled in math and science in high school, then entered Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering in 1987. She had not grown up dreaming of becoming an astronaut, or even of working in the space industry. Indeed, it was not until 1983, when Higginbotham was an undergraduate, that the first American woman, Sally Ride, and the first African American man, Guion S. Bluford, entered space. (Valentina Tereshkova, a Soviet Cosmonaut, was the first woman in space, twenty years earlier, in 1963 while the first person of African descent in space was Arnaldo Tamayo Ménde ...

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Jason Philip Miller

astronaut and scientist, was born Stephanie Diana Wilson in Boston, Massachusetts, the daughter of Eugene Wilson, an electrical engineer, and Barbara Wilson, who worked in aerospace. The family relocated to the small town of Pittsfield, in western Massachusetts, when Stephanie was a child, and it was there that she was raised and attended local schools. She was a good student, with interests in music, sports, and science. When she was thirteen, she interviewed an astronomy professor as part of a “career awareness” class and project. She was inspired and later would recount that moment as the one that helped to plot her future course.

Wilson graduated from Taconic High School in 1984 and matriculated late that year at Harvard College, from which she earned a bachelor's in engineering science four years later. She went on to the University of Texas and received a master's in aerospace engineering in 1992 ...