If you watched the movie “Hidden Figures” you would quickly perceive Sharon McDougle as fitting right into list of impressive women who defied the odds and have made a difference in history.
Sharon McDougle is the amazing NASA space shuttle crew member who suited up the first African American-American female Mae Jamison for Sept. 22, 1992 historic mission STS-47 aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor. I asked Sharon if she would share with us about her faith and life over 50.
“My father died when I was 4 yrs old and my mother was killed in a car accident when I was 7 yrs old. I became very withdrawn and was angry with God for taking my parents – just didn’t understand why he wanted to take them away from me. I can recall walking to a small neighborhood church, holding my mama’s hand, happy as can be, just to be with her. After she was killed (not too far from the church or our house), I never returned to church. I lived with my sister and her family and she didn’t attend church. I missed it at first, but then I started to not care because I was mad at God for taking my parents.
Years went by, and I think I attended church only a couple times during my school years – and I didn’t like what I saw or heard. I’ve always believed there is a God – but I was still angry. Even though God took my parents, I still believed and felt that He and my parents were watching over me, because I could have easily been a statistic (pregnant teen, high school dropout, etc.). I believe that I was successful because of my faith, even through my anger, I still had faith in God.
Just the way things fell into place for my career – it had to be nothing but God! Graduated high school, no funding to attend college, I didn’t know what I was going to do.
Joined the Air Force after a recruiter spoke to our class my senior year. Had an amazing career in the Air Force, but decided to get out after serving two terms. I was out approximately 6 months and I was struggling – sleeping on a friend’s futon, cleaning office buildings at night and putting price tags on clothes in a warehouse on days – both were part time jobs, so no benefits.
The opportunity came to work for NASA came about out of the blue. A friend who I use to be in the Air Force with called me (mind you, we hadn’t been in contact with each other for more than a year), but, somehow he found me (God). Immediate opening to fit my skill set, interviewed over the phone and was hired on the spot (nothing but God)! I started at the bottom of the totem pole and ended my career as manager of my department (without a college degree) – just good old grit and determination……and GOD!!
As a young adult, I did return to church and was discouraged once again, so I stepped away…again. When I married and had my children, I returned to church again.
My faith has been strong my entire life and has helped me through some difficult times. I thank God for all the people he placed in my life to help me throughout these years and for watching over my family.
Now that I’m over 50, I feel even more empowered than ever before (mind you, I’ve always felt empowered since my late teens). I don’t let the little things get to me, I’ve also learned to walk more often, take myself out of situations instead of always feeling the need to defend against or battle with someone. When I was a younger woman, I think I actually liked doing battle with others, winning arguments, proving someone wrong. Now, I choose not to – less stress on myself, more peace on the inside and outside.
I am definitely enjoying life more, kind of like a new sense of freedom. Since high school I’ve had the attitude of not caring what others think of me, and it holds true even more now. I do what makes me happy (dress in silly costumes, tell silly jokes, go on adventures, etc.). If it’s something I want to do or try, I do it!!
I am so looking forward to more travel in the future. I so love to travel to different places. I want to explore the US of A more. We always tend to go abroad when we vacation when there’s so much right here at home that I haven’t seen.
My advice to other women over fifty – Do You, Boo!! Don’t worry about what your friends or anyone else may think. If you want to color your hair a crazy color, go skydiving, take a dance class, take a vacation all by yourself – DO IT!! Life is too short to sweat the small stuff (and small stuff which includes what someone may think of you). START LIVING TODAY!!!!”