Born and raised in El Paso, Ginger Kerrick knew she wanted to be an astronaut from the age of 5. Today, Kerrick is division chief of the Flight Operations Directorate Integration Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. With her 2016 induction into the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame, El Paso is well represented. But now is the time to recognize even more Texas women making history.
The Texas Governor’s Commission for Women is accepting nominations for the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame to recognize and celebrate Texas women not only for their individual achievements, but also for their contributions to the strength of the Lone Star State. Nominations are open to any native or current residents of Texas, living or deceased, who have made significant contributions to the state of Texas.
Among current Hall of Fame members with a connection to the El Paso area are: Diana Natalicio, president of The University of Texas at El Paso and a strong advocate for minority students to pursue higher education; Alicia R. Chacón, the first Mexican-American woman to be elected as a City Council representative in El Paso and the first woman to serve as regional director of the Small Business Administration; and Rosa Ramirez Guerrero, founder and artistic director of International Folklorico Dance Group and national award recipient for her documentary filmmaking of “Tapestry.”
These extraordinary women serve as examples and role models for all Texans. They continue to inspire the next generation of young women, who will go on to lead in fields such as business, education, philanthropy, public service, and the arts and sciences.
Texas has long been blessed with women of character and strength, who persevered against the odds. Ginger Kerrick’s mother encouraged her to study science and math, but a high school teacher told her that girls could not succeed in physics. She proved him wrong. Kerrick has broken professional barriers to become the first Russian-training-integration instructor, the first nonastronaut Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for the International Space Station and, later, NASA’s first female Hispanic flight director. Her favorite part of her job today is encouraging the young girls who visit NASA to study science. Kerrick also regularly inspires students across the state, promoting the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines at local schools, universities and nonprofit events.
Kerrick’s inspiring story is just one of many in the Hall of Fame.
Organized by the Texas Governor’s Commission for Women, the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame includes former first ladies, astronauts, entrepreneurs and Olympic athletes. A permanent exhibit is housed at Texas Woman’s University in Denton.
The Texas Governor’s Commission for Women helps Texas women to live healthier, more productive and more prosperous lives. Texas women with varied interests, backgrounds and expertise are appointed to the commission for two-year terms. With direction from Gov. Greg Abbott and first lady Cecilia Abbott, current focus areas include increasing opportunities for women-owned businesses, supporting Hurricane Harvey rebuilding efforts, promoting human trafficking awareness and prevention, and more.
Nominations to the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame must be submitted by 5 p.m. April 27. For more information and to nominate a Texas woman making history, visit gov.texas.gov/organization/women.