Inspirational Women & Their Stories
Eileen Marie Collins (Colonel, USAF, RET.)
Born November 19, 1956, in Elmira , New York.
Eileen graduated from Elmira Free Academy, Elmira, New York, in 1974 and received an Associate in Science degree in mathematics/science from Corning Community College in 1976. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and economics from Syracuse University in 1978. She also has a Master of Science degree in operations research from Stanford University in 1986 and a Master of Arts degree in space systems management from Webster University in 1989.
As a small girl she gazed up into the sky and watched the silent birds (sailplanes) soar through the air, this is where the love affair began. Eileen grew up in the "Soaring Capital of America." She was fascinated with flight and knew that one day she wanted to fly. At the age of 19 she had saved $1,000 and went to her local airport to ask them to show her how to fly. Her inspiration was fueled by women pilots and early astronauts.
Through years of education, determination and hard work she has logged more than 6,751 hours in both the air and space! Eileen joined the Air Force and began pilot training in 1978, the same year that NASA opened the Shuttle program to women. She became an official astronaut in 1991.
Eileen Collins is the first and currently only female Space Shuttle Commander in history!! Four space flights and 872 hours in space later Eileen retired from NASA in May 2006.