Students + Campus

Astronaut Anna Lee Fisher inspires UCLA chemistry and biochemistry students

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Anna Lee Fisher
Christelle Nahas/UCLA

“With a chemistry degree, you can go pretty much anywhere,” three-time UCLA alumna Anna Lee Fisher told a roomful of students Monday evening at a UCLA Careers in Chemistry and Biochemistry Seminar.  In her case, "anywhere" can extend beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

Astronaut Fisher, the first mother to enter space and a recipient of a UCLA Medal, spoke of the International Space Station, her successful 1984 NASA mission, careers at NASA and some of her UCLA memories. “I remember exactly sitting where you’re sitting,” she told her listeners.

She said she loves her career, and that at UCLA, she learned confidence and how to think analytically. Afterwards, she spoke informally at a reception with students, many of whom commented about how valuable her life lessons were to them.

“I love how passionate and inspirational she is, and so humble,” said fourth-year chemistry major Elamar Hakim-Moully. “I learned today you have to take every opportunity you get.”

Fisher said UCLA was the only university to which she applied. She earned a B.S. in chemistry in 1971 and an M.D. in 1976 before being chosen an astronaut in 1978. After her space flight in 1984, she obtained an M.S. in chemistry in 1987 at UCLA.

She was so devoted to her space job that Fisher gave birth to her oldest child, Kristin, on a Friday and attended a NASA meeting the following Monday in preparation for her flight.

Fisher is among UCLA’s icons featured in its Optimists campaign.

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