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Farewell to a hero and inspiration

Like so many Americans, I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Sally Ride yesterday after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.

Many knew her for her accomplishments as the first American woman in space. However, among her many achievements was to inspire young people, particularly girls, to become interested in science and to pursue careers in science, engineering and math. Untold Americans have taken up scientific pursuits in the three decades since Sally’s travels on the shuttle Challenger captivated the nation.

Sally Ride was an inspiration to many not just for the things she accomplished, but for how she accomplished them. She brought a sense of joy and fun to science that lit fires of learning under young people everywhere. And she brought to her service a degree of integrity and humility that shine as examples to all.

On several occasions I have heard young engineers explain how they first took an interest in the sciences because of Sally Ride. I can think of few tributes more meaningful than that.

We at ExxonMobil were extremely proud to partner with Sally in developing the Sally Ride Science Academy in 2009 to prepare young people for careers in science, technology, engineering and math. It was an honor to join her on this important mission.

In three short years working together, we have helped train nearly 5,000 teachers across the country, who in turn will have an immeasurable impact on the lives of many more students.

We were honored to work with Sally on other math and science programs, as well, including in her role as a director of the National Math and Science Initiative. And among my fondest memories in my time at the company is Sally’s visit to our Irving headquarters two years ago to meet local students on Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.

She once explained that her goal was simply to “make science and engineering cool again.”

Mission accomplished, Sally. Thank you for a remarkable and inspiring life.

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