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Local Woman Honored For Her Work In STEM Careers
photo by provided
Tuesday May 24, 2016
By Cookie Steponaitis
Born and raised in the Champlain Valley, Mary Daniels Harrison comes from a line of women who pushed the limits of what was possible in their time for women. Her great-grandmother Philomena Daniels was the first licensed steamboat captain in America in the late 1800’s and opened pathways for other women including her daughter-in-law to follow. Raised to be involved in her community and to pursue her dreams, Mary chose a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) career and worked from 1963 to 1985 involved in NASA programs including the Space Shuttle. Working 60 to 80 hours a week, Mary worked on the teams responsible for the OMS Orbital Maneuvering Subsystem, the Power Reactive Storage Assembly and the External Tank. Watching man land on the moon on a small television in Bar Harbor, Maine, Mary felt a sense of great joy and pride in what the country and people had accomplished. Ending her career as Government Property Administrator for all Government Property bought and sold at what was then Simmonds Precision, Mary Harrison loved not only the challenges of her work, but the incredible problem solving and collaboration of the teams she worked with. She set her goals high and often found herself punching holes in glass ceilings that stopped or discouraged women from entering careers in science.
When not getting the chance to meet astronauts or standing in the causeway for a shuttle launch, Harrison took on active roles in her community including rescue squad membership, American Legion Auxiliary and countless other projects. Working with local teachers, Harrison shares not only her passion for community work, but her firm belief in a woman selecting a path in science, engineering and technology if that is where they see themselves making an impact. Meeting with students in groups or in small groups Mary’s story looks at how any person can set goals, work hard, persevere and achieve. Recently contacted at her home in Bristol, Harrison was astonished to find that she had been selected as the 2016 Woman of Achievement recipient by the Miss Vermont Scholarship Organization. Harrison will be presented her award on Friday, May 27th at the Barre Opera House. As Vermont moves into more and more green technology and ways where the land, science, technology and people are coming together, it is a tribute to Mary Harrison and others of her generation who already showed that Americans truly can “boldly go where no man has gone before,” and while we are at it to redefine the definition of what is possible.
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