2021 November Mag

October 29, 2021

Sharon Caples McDougle, is truly a modern day “hidden figure” who is not hidden anymore! Her long list of firsts show that shooting for the stars is possible. Her dedication to her country and her trailblazing, glass shattering contributions to science and space have not gone unnoticed.

Sharon Caples McDougle wearing purple floral top with chunky jewelry and smiling with red lips
PHOTO CREDIT: MS. DIG PHOTOGRAPHY; CREATIVE DIRECTOR: GENMA HOLMES

Sharon Caples McDougle became a vital part of the the NASA family in 1990 where she worked in the Space Shuttle Crew Escape Equipment (CEE) department. She began her career as a CEE Suit Technician and was responsible for processing the orange launch and entry suit (LES) assemblies worn by Space Shuttle astronauts. McDougle was one of only two women technicians and the only African American technician when she began her career.

Sharon McDougle wearing Hidden figure no more tshirt and large necklaceMcDougle is truly a modern day ‘hidden figure” who is not hidden anymore.  Everyone knows Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman to go to space – but many do not know that another African American, McDougle, with her own list of firsts, was responsible for ensuring Dr. Jemison’s safety into orbit and her return to earth. McDougle was Jemison’s suit tech for her historic mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor September 12, 1992.

For over a year, McDougle trained along beside Dr. Jemison on all facets of working in zero gravity in her suit. Dr. Jemison has openly shared her respect and admiration for McDougle and once wrote, “There are so many incredible people who ensure that astronauts make it to space and back safely. Thank you, Sharon McDougle, for your hard work!”                             

NASA TAKES Notice

In 1994, McDougle was promoted to the position of Crew Chief making her the first woman and first African American CEE Crew Chief. In her new position, she was responsible for leading a team of technicians to suit up astronaut crews. McDougle had the honor of leading the first and only all-woman suit tech crew.  McDougle along with her team met the astronauts immediately after leaving the shuttle upon return from space.

In 2004, McDougle became the only woman and only African American promoted to the position of Manager of the CEE department. She managed over 25 employees who were responsible for training the astronauts on how to donn and doff their suits that were designed to save their lives and taught all the technical aspects of their suits worn into space on the Space Shuttle for the launch and recovered the crew upon landing. She held this position until the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011. She continued working until 2012 to help close-out the program, ending an illustrious 22-year career with NASA.

Other notable astronauts McDougle helped train for lift off into space safely and recover upon reentry are Charles Bolden (former NASA Administrator), Frederick Gregory (1st African American Space Shuttle Commander), and Dr. Bernard Harris (first African American to perform a spacewalk). She even had the opportunity to suit up a few celebrities which included actors Tom Cruise and Candice Bergen.

During her career with NASA, she was recognized with the Astronaut “Silver Snoopy” Award, Space Flight Awareness Honoree Award, and the coveted Women of Color in Flight Award from Dr. Mae Jemison recognizing her as the first and only African American woman suit tech/crew chief in her field.

Prepared for Greatness

The Air Force prepared McDougle for her historic career with NASA. In the Air Force, McDougle was an Aerospace Physiology Specialist who was responsible for training the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 reconnaissance aircraft (“spy planes”)  pilots on high altitude operations. She performed hazardous duty as an inside observer chamber technician and as a chamber operations team member during hypobaric (altitude) and hyperbaric (dive) chamber operations. During the hypobaric chamber flights crewmembers learned firsthand how hypoxia affects their judgment while flying an aircraft. The crewmembers were taught and practiced how they would handle these types of situations and the importance of wearing all equipment correctly

McDougle also inspected and maintained flight equipment used for the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 missions. The equipment included full pressure suit ensembles (helmet, gloves, boots, etc.), harness assemblies, and survival equipment (seat kits and parachutes, and emergency oxygen systems). She sized and fitted crewmembers’ pressure suits, assisted crewmembers in donning and doffing their suits, and performed functional tests before takeoff. She also loaded the survival seat kits and parachutes into the aircraft, strapped-in the crewmembers before take-off, and recovered the crew upon landing. During her time in the Air Force, she was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, and Good Conduct Medal

McDougle’s military training and her 22 years hidden working with NASA astronauts has given her a wealth of knowledge she shares while volunteering in her community and with several organizations. She serves as Vice President and Executive Administrator for Unveiled Aspirations – a women’s empowerment organization. Other volunteer activities include reading to children, cleaning community gardens, working in food pantries, feeding the homeless, and working in thrift stores, just to name a few.

A firm believer in mentorship and forever thankful for the teachers who inspired her to reach for the stars, McDougle is a TWST4Girls (Together We Stand Tall 4 Girls) mentor/facilitator for the Harris County Juvenile Corrections Department Program. She is also a mentor with the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. The fellowship’s purpose is to give collegiate Black students their first Aerospace internship!

Hidden Figure No More

Sharon Caples McDougle Hidden figure wearing large black hat and animal print jumpsuit and beaded jewelryHer dedication to her country and her trailblazing, glass shattering contributions to science and space, have not gone unnoticed. McDougle has been recognized as a Mississippi Trailblazer at the 2018 Mississippi Trailblazers Awards Ceremony and Black-Tie Gala where she received two awards: The Calvin “Buck” Buchanan “FIRST” Award named for Mississippi’s first United States Attorney for the Northern District, which honors a Mississippian who holds the distinction of being the “first” in their profession, and the Dr. Cindy Ayers “Legacy” Award honoring a Trailblazer whose singular work and contributions will leave a legacy long after their lifetime.  

Other awards from her home state: McDougle was honored in the Inaugural class of Mississippi’s Top 25 Most Influential African Americans and the Living Legend Lifetime Achievement Award from the Moss Point Visionary Circle. In 2021, McDougle was recognized by Who’s Who of Mississippi Women with the Inaugural Dr. Helen Barnes Award.

The accolades continue, “That Girl” Natasha Lee and the city of Detroit honored McDougle at the “Make Your Mark Symposium.” McDougle received The Spirit of Detroit Award for exceptional achievement, outstanding leadership, and dedication to improving the quality of life and The Black Caucus Foundation of Michigan recognized her with the Leadership and Commitment of Excellence Award.

Loved Around the Country

She is not only loved in Mississippi but around the country! She was made an Honorary Citizen of Lake Charles, Louisiana by Mayor Nic Hunter and was a Remarkable Women of Houston finalist for CW39’s Houston Morning Dose News. McDougle is also a That Girl Brand Ambassador and a member of the Red Hat Society. Her Red Hat Chapter, Divas With Hattitude, recognized her as their very first Woman of the Year! She was also crowned as the 2019 Bluebonnet Queen.

McDougle has been featured in various publications, media outlets, radio shows and podcasts. She shares her inspirational story during speaking engagements, virtually and in-person, as keynote speaker as well as participating as a panel member at colleges and university STEM activities. McDougle recently became an author, penning her first children’s book titled “Suit Up for Launch with Shay!”  She also shares her story “Does God Love Me?” in the upcoming book Fearless Women Rock, Volume III.

McDougle is happily married to her husband Maronald, a diver for NASA. They have two adult children, Dominique, and Corbin. She and her husband are natives of Moss Point, MS, currently residing in the Houston, TX area.

Connect with McDougle via the web:

Facebook:
https://m.facebook.com/SharonMcDougleHiddenFigure/
https://m.facebook.com/SuitUpForLaunch/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/therealshaymac/   

Linktree: https://linktr.ee/SharonMcDougle

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcdougle_sharon

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharon-mcdougle-237465bb/

Website: https://smcdougle2.wixsite.com/sharoncaplesmcdougle

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0g5rjNOPjeM6XRffCTusgw/featured

The Wise Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOUYJ1RhgiI        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKf3iHvER-c

ThatGirl Merchandise  https://www.instagram.com/imthatgirlnatasha/   



Sharon Caple Mcdougle jumping in orange flight suit
Sharon Caple Mcdougle jumping in orange flight suit
Sharon Caple Mcdougle jumping in orange flight suit
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Comments (80)

  • She’s a very impressive friend that always leave a great impression where ever she goes. Glad to call her “Friend”. I personally look forward to all of her “NEXTS”! Best wishes and God’s continued covering over you and your family.

    • SHARON IS MY BEAUTIFUL GORGEOUS SWEET INTELLIGENT SMART CLASSMATE/SIS/FRIEND IS SO BEAUTIFUL INSIDE AND OUT AMAZING STRONG VERY CREATIVE CLASSY AND SASSY DIVA SO PROUD OF YOU KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK LOVE YA TO PIECES💖💋🎊🎉😍🥰🙌👏🙏🏽💯💯

  • Sharon is amazing and does a lot of great work in the community as well. I am so happy to see she is now “SEEN” for all the amazing work she has done and all the great work she is doing.

  • Ms. Sharon is truly a hidden figure. Representation is so important and she is making a great impact for black girls around the world.

  • I am so glad that Sharon is being recognized for her amazing contributions to science. She is an amazing person and I’m so happy for her.

  • Well deserved spotlight!! Sharon’s NASA career as well as her the way she shows up in the community (volunteering and giving back) is a testament to her awesomeness! A beautiful inspiration inside and out!

  • Sharon reached out to me and allowed me to tel her story while I was working with a Mississippi Gulf Coast publication and we have been friends since. What a jewel she is and I was/am proud for the world to know that Mississippi produces diamonds, despite the negative connotation the state has. Sharon embodies black excellence and is a beacon on a hill for others to follow.

  • On behalf of Making it Count Community Development Corporation, Thank you for highlighting Sharon McDougle. Sharon is extremely humble in her accomplishments and truly deserves to be featured. She is a living example of pushing beyond boundaries. Salute!

  • THE ENERGY IS ALWAYS FELT WHEN YOU SEE SHARON. Just to know her You are charged to do better at living life to the fullest. Her historic story is one to know and share with others.

    Thank you Sharon for sharing your story. A hidden figure who’s no longer hidden 🤩

  • Sharon is such an amazing, sweet and humble…. beautiful woman. She goes above and beyond in everything she does! I am so happy to see she is now “SEEN” for all of her accomplishments! She does and has done so much for others! Her community has to be proud to have her!!!!

  • I’m so glad that Sharon is getting recognition for her outstanding contribution to science, she’s and understanding person and I’m so happy to know her.

  • Sharon is a hard worker and is always ready and willing to lend a hand. She is authentic. She deserves all the accolades heaped upon her. I am so proud of her. She may be a hidden figure to some but I always saw her. I love you Sharon and wish for you all this life has to offer. Keep on keeping on.

  • Sharon has been my role model from the minute I met her. She is such an inspiration and great human being! I’m so happy she is getting credit where it is due. I love you and so happy you came into my life!

  • Juliea Robinson-Nelson

    Sharon is a beautiful woman inside and out. After knowing her, I am proud to call her my friend. She is humble, gracious and willing to share her knowledge of life, space and her accomplishments with the various generations, especially our youth. One of my fondest memories is that of our career day at Young Women’s Preparatory Academy in Houston, the students were in awe when they discovered her career choice and the exposure, experiences and opportunities that this “Hidden Figure” had achieved. Much love to you and your family.

    Juliea

  • Sharon is a beautiful woman inside and out. After knowing her, I am proud to call her my friend. She is humble, gracious and willing to share her knowledge of life, space and her accomplishments with the various generations, especially our youth. One of my fondest memories is that of our career day at Young Women’s Preparatory Academy in Houston, the students were in awe when they discovered her career choice and the exposure, experiences and opportunities that this “Hidden Figure” had achieved. Much love to you and your family.

    Juliea

  • Simply a beautiful and amazing person. Great that Sharon is now being honored for all if her amazing accomplishments. I am certainly honored and privileged to know her.

  • Sharon motivates me everyday with her fabulous and inspirational posts! When I met Sharon, I had no idea she was the true embodiment of Black Girl Magic, she is so down to earth and a pleasure to be around! Let’s continue to give Sharon, her due flowers as this Hidden Figure comes out of the shadows, while representing with style and radiance.

  • Sharon, you have always been a blessing. I’m so proud of you. I have always rooted for you and will continue to root for you. I love you and keep the faith.

    Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
    -Martin Luther King Jr.

  • Almost daily I tell someone to “Create your own path and follow it ” or ” The paths may continually change, but the Journey remains the same. Stay on the Path! She has done all of this and empowers others to walk her talk. I’m proud and honored to watch her soar and continue to explore and discover.

  • Sharon you are a very phenomenal woman oh I am so happy for you and everything that you have accomplished in your life please keep showing us how to do it because you’re doing a remarkable job!! I love you and pray for all you have to bring us next comes to pass. You are my Shero!!! ♥️

  • YASSSSSSS!! My sweet BFF and Childhood Sisterhood is slaying!! I love her to the moon and back and she’s slaying AND Taking names!!!! Her story is inspiring to sooo many and I’M sooo damn proud of her!!! From her story to her children’s books and many many more opportunities to come her way..SHE IS THE EPITOME of HIDDEN FIGURE NO MORE!! Het her Book today and BOOK HER TODAY!!!

  • Sharon, you are such a remarkable lady. No one is more deserving than yourself. You have nit only accomolished your goal, but also paved the way where upcoming ladies can see it is possible.

    • Aunt Sharon,
      Reading your story makes me smile 😃 over and over again. I know your parents would be so proud! You are truly amazing and encouraging. You can either take your life circumstances and make excuses or keep proving you can make the difference. I know anyones life you’ve been in you have touched them in a great way. Your energy is everything and I love you! 💕 #Shero

  • I was able to connect with Sharon via FB. She is definitely an inspiration and #BlackGirlMagic personified!!! I am excited to receive her new book and teach my 2-yr old daughter about her work.

  • Sharon has been a BEAUTIFUL and AMAZING friend as long as I’ve known her and that’s been over 50 years. Her amazing SPIRIT and ENERGY makes you smile when she enters a room. This article/spotlight is well deserved my beautiful friend. I am SO PROUD of you.

    Love you always 🥰🤗😘

  • Wow! Sharon you are such a Beautiful and Awesome Young Lady! Your determination and perseverance has proven your Awesomeness! The Bible says you are like a Light that sit on a hill that cannot be hid. You have proven that! It also speaks of higher heights and deeper depths you have shown that it can be attained. I am so Proud to witness the goodness of God in your life! Keep that Beautiful smile and the press you have and God will continue to bless! Much love to you and your family!

  • You are an amazing woman with a fire that lights up everything & everyone around you. Your smile is infectious. Don’t change a thing. Keep leaving your mark.

  • Sharon, you are an amazing woman, Shero!!! I am so proud of you. You make the McCurdy family proud💕.

    You have inspired me in so many ways, cousin. You are beautiful, funny, sassy, a dancer, creatively gifted. You are a sister-girl, motivator, giver to kids, girls and community. Truly #thatgirl! Love you beautiful cousin 💕💗🦋🌸

  • Congratulations Sharon!! I’m so proud of you and all of your accomplishments. Continue to share your powerful story and impact lives. Many blessings to come.

  • Sharon, I truly believe this is the moment for which you have been created. Hidden no more! God is using you in a mighty way dear Friend and the best is yet to come. You have helped others to reach the moon and that has landed you among the stars! Continue to soar like an Eagle! Continue to share and give back! You have a “serving” spirit and that pleases God! I am so very proud of you and am honored to know you and call you my BFF. You have that affect on folks! Onward to the next chapter – my co-Fearless Women Rock author! Your future is so bright, it blinds me! Much Love and Continued Success!

  • My aunt Sharon has been doing her thing and making her own way for as long as I can remember…and longer. She is an unstoppable force that has yet to meet an object she can’t move! There was no way to keep this hidden figure hidden for long! She shines so bright it’s blinding! Go get em auntie❤️❤️

  • This is an absolutely super fantastic article! You are that woman that makes us all shine! May your accomplishments inspire young women to pursue their dreams and think about being a part of history with you and Dr. Mae! Blessings!

  • This is an amazing article I’m so proud of you and what you have accomplished in life I look up to you 💕you set a great example to other women that if you work hard for what you want to achieve you can have it all💕

  • My wife, Sharon McDougle, is truly an amazing woman. I am so, so happy to be in her Circle of Love. There is so much to be said but I am still reading the book, page after page, every day. I am so happy for you – I Love, Love, Love you baby!!

  • What a POWERHOUSE‼️

    Sharon is such a positive influence for today’s girl. She has proven that one can truly do anything she puts her mind to!

    Thanks for your contributions! You’re amazing!

  • Carol boardmanscruse

    Sharon is amazing ! I love her spirit and smile ! We met as strangers and ended up sisters! Congrats on the greatness THT u r!

  • Jan Moore Millender

    Sharon, you are absolutely amazing!! I’m so proud of you & your accomplishments, and I’m happy to call you friend. Keep up the great work; even beyond the stars. You’ve made us/Moss Point proud and you’ve encouraged us all to pursue our dreams. Continued success!!

  • What a truly impressive Bio! How could all of this awesomeness been hidden?!

    I am honored and humbled to have had the privilege to help her with her terriffic children’s book! As an adult, even I learned something from “Shay!” You will, too!

    Sharon is truly amazing and has a genuine positive spirit. I hope to one day see this no longer hidden gem, in person!

  • Every solitary moment knowing this living legend is a joy for me! The moment that I met her I knew she was #thatgirl💋

    She’s a crusader for all things powerful with an incredibly beautiful light that the world needs to know! Thank you for sharing this phenomenal woman with your audience. Let’s lift her up and hold her there! I love you Shay!

  • Sharon Caple is a fun loving lady whom happen to be my classmate. I Love her amazing out look on life. She is an awesome and amazing loving person.

  • Sharon is an amazing person. By the grace of God, she became my mentor through the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship program. She has always treated me with kindness without even know much about me. It is always awesome seeing her being recognized for such great work. It is truly my pleasure to be her mentee, among the many mentees she has.

  • Sharon is one of a kind, I proud of her many accomplishments and she continues to add to the list. Hidden no more indeed. I’m proud to be her Red Hat Society Queen and wish her many more first.

  • Sharon is more than all her much deserved accolades, she’s done it all and managed to stay down to earth and be a person who genuinely cares about other people. She gives generously of her time and talent. So glad to see her receiving all the honor and blessings she deserves.

  • “First impressions are lasting impressions”, once you met Sharon, you will “Never” forget Sharon. She has an amazing story and is quite an amazing lady. Congratulations on all your accomplishments home girl.

  • You have been such an inspiration in my household. You’re proof that hard work and dreams do come true. Thank you Sharon for allowing us to take a glimpse into your world. You are someone I look up to. Job well done!

    • I had the pleasure of meeting this Beautiful Soul, Sharon McDougle, in the early 80’s when she was stationed at Beale, Air Force Base.

      She was always kind, funny, down to earth, and the life of every party!!!!

      It’s been wonderful reconnecting on FB and being able to see the pictures of her work in the community with the various organizations she holds near and dear.

      Sharon, you Beautiful Black Queen,
      you ROCK! God is definitely pleased with you and your accomplishments and I look forward to seeing you again in person one day soon!

  • Sharon is a remarkable role model for all to aspire. Her work in the community is telling of her passion for others as a world changer and history maker. Love is the crowning grace of humanity and God created a masterpiece in her to display that. Sharon’s heart and smile is infectious. Honored to know and work with her in building a stronger community.

  • WOW! 🎊 Where do I start🤔 Sharon and I are high school classmates. Sharon reminds me of Sunshine shes authentic & a woman of integrity always giving POSITIVE VIBES. 💯 It is an honor to know such a beautiful, awesome person. Thank you for your gift to humanity 🥰

  • You are truly inspirational. Your story has been so impactful. It is always a joy to see our Beautiful Brown sisters celebrated. Thank you so much for sharing. I look forward to reading your books to my granddaughter.

  • Sharon is so amazing!! This is just a small glimpse into her life and how extraordinary she really is! I am so proud of her and all that is happening in her life right now. “Hidden No More!” Not only is she an amazing role model for so many… she is truly “My sissy”! I love you Sharon! I will forever be a part of this cheering squad as you continue to blaze your trail! Your story is still being written! GOD is not finished with you yet!

  • Sharon is the Shero of our small town of Moss Point Ms! Our community is a minority town that many consider as “low producing educationally”. This is far from the truth and Sharon is proof of it. She and many others have walked the path of living in a city that has been ruled out and looked down upon, and yet excelled to National recognition! Sharon overcame obstacles that would have paralyzed many. She did so with class ,grace and humbleness. It is an honor to know her and to see her being featured in your article is well deserved.

  • I admire Sharon and all of her contributions to space travel and helping out communities. She is a positive role model to many.

  • My dearest sister, you’re one in a million! Everything You Touch turns to gold! You take on challenges and succeed at your best. I can’t say how how much this makes me feel over joyed having you as my sister and accomplishing what you’ve accomplished. I am so proud to be your sister! Love you always.

  • Cynthia L. Youngblood

    Wow…I’m so excited and proud of you Queen. I can hardly wait to show this and the book to my granddaughters. To know you is to love ❤ you and you are loved by many.

  • My dearest sister!! You’re such an inspiring young lady. I am so proud of your achievements and you never stopped. You’ve reached the Stars! I’m just glad your story is shared and many more to come. I am so glad to be your sister! Love you always!

  • My Motivation. My inspiration 😍. The Drive The Hustle !! It’s never stops I love it I look up to it

    That’s My Mama Love you !! So happy for you

  • Talkin’ about PHENOMENAL WOMEN…. Sharon McDougal is all that! What an incredible life-story! What AMAZING accomplishments!! Little did I know that my “Diva” friend had more going on for herself than she let on. Sharon’s upbeat & dare-to-be-different personality make it a PLEASURE just being around her!! She is a true role model for young black girls & an inspiration to us all!! Congratulations, Diva!!! So, so proud of u, girl!❤

  • Wow! Sharon, you are truly amazing and have always been an inspiration and role model for me. Congratulations on your success and countless achievements. You definitely deserve to be honored, admired and respected! I am beyond proud of you.

  • Sharon is a powerful, inspiring, intelligent woman. So proud of her, she is also my Redhat sister. She is not hidden, that’s for sure.

  • Mrs. Sharon is such a sweet and caring person when my daughter found out who she was, she was intrigued and I told Mrs. Sharon about her interest in NASA and science she was so generous to send my daughter some really cool NASA patches and space coloring books etc. Thank you so much for your time and your contributions to the world you are appreciated it!

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