That Time Sally Ride Wrote Me Back

by Liz Marasco

I was a precocious 7-year-old. So, naturally, when I was tasked with giving a presentation on a famous American figure, I shot for the stars – literally.

I did my school project on Sally Ride. Why? I’m not sure. I certainly hadn’t heard of her before that moment, but I managed to discover her existence and promptly became obsessed with her within the span of probably two hours.

I was 100 percent convinced that I, too, would become an astronaut one day.

Luckily, the subject of my new obsession turned out to be a pretty rad woman. Sally Ride – if, like my 6-year-old self, you don’t know her – was the first American woman in space. She’s also the youngest person to ever be in space, making her first trip to orbit on the Space Shuttle at 32.

Like most children, I was 100 percent convinced that I, too, would become an astronaut one day, just like Sally Ride. I had myself so persuaded that I wrote to her to tell her this news. 

Dr. Sally Ride – or, what’s more likely, her intern – responded! In her letter, she encouraged my curiosity and love of space. She told me to break through barriers, just like she did, no matter which path I pursued and to never let my gender get in the way of dreaming big and fighting hard. She included a signed headshot. I never forgot it, and it was a formative moment for me.

Ready to shoot for the stars? Let your team inspire each other with the Avanoo StoryApp. Join us for a virtual town hall or schedule a 1-on-1 demo to learn more.

The lesson here is clear: take the extra time to encourage the people around you. You never know what kind of impact your intervention may have on someone. Go the extra mile to not just respond, but respond with kindness and a signed headshot. You just may be the subject of a blog 23 years later.

Today is Sally Ride Day. Although she passed away in 2012 from pancreatic cancer, we continue to celebrate her and her legacy on her birthday. Because of her kindness, her legacy doesn’t just include her obvious accomplishment of, you know, being the first American woman to go to space – it also includes inspiring young girls everywhere.


—Liz Marasco, Avanoo Marketing Manager

About Liz

Liz Marasco has a Master’s in Linguistics from the University of Colorado Boulder and works in the marketing department at Avanoo. Her work has been featured on the TEDx stage and Mental Floss. When not thinking about words, she can be found ogling birds on the Front Range or hiking up a local trail.

About Avanoo

Avanoo brings together the world’s oldest artform – storytelling – and the world’s newest technologies – AI, machine learning – to support teams in experiencing more connection, belonging, and performance. Our app makes it easy for employees to share and listen to each other’s stories wherever they are, and our insights dashboard makes it easy for leaders to understand where and how stories create lasting impact on their teams. Learn more:
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