Honoring the Mercury 13 Women
May 12, 2007 * UW Oshkosh Spring Commencement

Before Sally Ride, Christa McAuliffe and Eileen Collins, courageous women were setting new records and conquering new horizons. Though largely unrecognized in history, the Mercury 13 women showed their determination, strength and bravery in the Space Race with accomplishments that paved the way for generations. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh is proud to recognize the pioneering spirit of these women with honorary Doctor of Science—honoris causa—degrees.


Sarah Lee Gorelick Ratley

Born in Kansas City, Kan., Sarah Lee Gorelick Ratley was working for AT&T as an electrical engineer when she was solicited by Dr. Lovelace for testing. She received the phone call on Saturday, and she was in Albuquerque, N.M., at the clinic on Monday.

Educationally, she was as qualified as any Mercury 7 astronaut, with a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, with minors in physics and chemistry. At 28, she held a commercial pilot’s license, with airplane single and multi-engine land ratings, single engine sea, instrument, rotor and glider ratings.

A free-spirited person, Ratley participated in six All Women Transcontinental Air Races, also known as the Powder Puff Derby, and numerous other races, including the International Women’s Air Race.

When the Mercury 13 testing was complete, she left AT&T and became an accountant. She now works for the IRS in Kansas and still enjoys flying her Cessna 172 for fun.

Download Sarah Lee Gorelick Ratley commendation (pdf)