Wow! Wow! Wow! This inspiring mural on the Upper Eastside of Jacksonville, Florida was created by some incredible students from James Weldon Johnson, a Duval County Public School, and visual artist Roosevelt Watson III. Aptly titled “The Dream Big Mural”, it honors a young woman who embodies what it means to truly dream big… Taylor Richardson, aka Astronaut StarBright, a 15-year-old role model and aspiring astronaut everyone should know.

We’ve had the privilege of knowing Taylor since she was just 12 years old, witnessing and covering this extraordinary teen’s continuous stream of achievements, accomplishments, and recognitions over the last three years. Among them… her attendance at the first-ever White House United State of Women Summit… her speech at the 2017 March For Science… her collaboration with Lottie Dolls… her mission to bring books to girls in Ghana… to name just a few. Oh, and we can’t forget this magical moment in March 2018. We were in the middle of having lunch with Taylor, when Oprah – YES, THAT OPRAH – made a $50,000 pledge to Taylor’s GoFundMe campaign to send 1,000 girls to see “A Wrinkle In Time”.

Now a sophomore in high school, Taylor is a STEMinist, history-maker, philanthropist, literacy advocate, and anti-bullying crusader, who remains steadfast on her determined mission to be the first astronaut on Mars.

Taylor’s fascination with space, particularly stars, developed around age 5 or 6. She credits reading Dr. Mae Jemison’s book Find Where the Wind Goes in the 3rd grade with sparking her interest in space exploration. So it seems only fitting that we celebrate Taylor’s Dream Big mural today, September 12, the very same date on which her idol, the pioneering Dr. Jemison, made history 27 years ago when she became the first African American woman in space.

The mural is a stunning, larger-than-life visual homage to everything Taylor stands for. After visiting it for the first time and reflecting on its impact, the ever-inspiring teen shared this powerful message… “I found out that prior to the mural it was just a blank wall that kids passed and on the other side was a juvenile detention center they would pass! So everyday kids would walk back and forth and only see those two things. I’m truly honored that the owners of Knopf Binders would even consider me. A bullied, ADHD, retained Black girl who’s dream most think lofty is to go to Mars one day. But it is also to bring more to the table we call STEM/STEAM. I hope now that the mural is up, it will allow these kids and those in the community to know that your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start. That you don’t look outside your window in despair but look up to the sky because you are a shining STAR and your dreams and potential are limitless!”