JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — She may be young, but Taylor Denise Richardson knows what she wants to be in life.
Her dreams are to become an astronaut one day and to be the first African-American woman to go to Mars.
A Cheraw native, she attended Cheraw Primary School for first grade before her family moved to Florida. She is currently attending Fletcher Middle School in Jacksonville.
Richardson earned her wings last summer at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama and has visited several U.S. space centers over the past school year.
Her list of achievements is already long. She was the only African-American girl from her county to attend the summer space program in Huntsville. She won first place in her age group for the mayor’s essay contest. She was also selected as a 2015 Jacksonville Achiever for her community service and academic excellence.
In May, she served as guest speaker for the United Way’s third annual Reading Pals breakfast, an event designed to bolster childhood literacy. Before the breakfast, Richardson donated more than 175 books to an elementary school.
Giving is something she continues to do all over Jacksonville as well as reading to younger kids in her blue astronaut suit. She is known as astronaut StarBright.
Richardson likes to read stories of African-American trailblazers.
Reading isn’t her only pastime and passion. She was a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra for the 2014-15 year. She was also involved in Girls on the Run and Journey into Womanhood and was a five-time triathlete at the First Coast Kids Triathlon.
Lisa Daniel, vice president of marketing and communications for the United Way of Northeast Florida, said Richardson embodies the Latin motto “Ad astra per aspera” — through adversity to the stars.
Richardson’s hero is Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go into space, who encourages children to “never be limited by others’ limited imagination.”
She is the daughter of Drs. Chris Watts of Atlanta and Latonja Richardson of Jacksonville, Florida, both graduates of Cheraw High School.
Her grandparents are Richard and Mamie Watts and Michael Burr, who all reside in Cheraw.
Taylor Richardson’s family provided information for this story.