Bishop, Fmr. NASA Researcher & CEO
Bishop Dr. Alice Pendleton is currently the founder/senior pastor of Pendleton Chapel Baptist Church in Hempstead, Texas. She is the first African American woman to obtain a seat as bishop on the world council of the Covenant Bishops Global Council Inc. by Bishop Dr. Samuel Sauls, Presiding Bishop. She is currently the Chancellor of Pendleton Chapel Seminary in Hempstead, Texas where students can receive a Bachelor, a Master and a Doctor of Divinity in one year. Dr. Pendleton is also a retired disabled assistant professor of Prairie View A&M University (PVAMU) and a disabled distinguished retired NASA research scientist who was a hidden figure, because she was a African American woman who was discriminated against because of her disability.
Dr. Pendleton graduated Salutatorian from Sam Schwartz High School–where she also met her future husband–a segregated school in 1967 in Hempstead, Texas, but did not receive any scholarship offers. She waited five years before beginning her college education at Prairie View A&M University in 1972, where she ultimately received her B.S. in Pre-Med and mechanical engineering, graduating Cum Laude in 1979. She earned her Master’s of Science in Materials Science in 1983–the same year that she suffered a debilitating stroke following a tumor-removal surgery. As a recent college graduate, Dr. Pendleton had to re-learn how to crawl, walk, and talk. She developed a condition called Aseptic Necrosis, which means there’s no blood supply going to the bones. She began to lose calcium in her bones and ultimately had to have total left and right hip replacements as well as a total right shoulder replacement.
During this time, however, Dr. Pendleton says “God called me to preach the gospel. God told me in his word in [Matthew] 9:37 that the harvest is truly plenteous, but the laborers are few. He sent me into the harvest” and in 1984 she earned a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts, and Doctor of Divinity degree in theology from Mt. Zion Bible Institute in Houston, Texas.
In 2007, while working on her Ph.D at Texas A&M University, she was enlisted by NASA–at the request of Queen Elizabeth of England, former President George W. Bush, and Dr. Mike Dube–to come work for the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland as a distinguished research scientist. At NASA, Dr. Pendleton was responsible for testing lubricants designed to operate in outer space, including Castrol and Penzzane oils, to gauge the coefficient of friction, degradation, and determine the life span of the lubricants for the Hubble Telescope and Space Shuttle. In 2008, she completed her doctoral studies and received her Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering.
During her time as a NASA research scientist, Dr. Pendleton recalls her struggles against discrimination, particularly regarding her disability. “As a disabled research scientist, I was discriminated against due to my disability. I could not have [walked] long distances. I was denied a golf cart [as well as] research and teaching assistants, and I could not park close to the buildings although vendors were allowed. I was denied accommodations based on [Americans with Disabilities Act] laws,” she said. “I want to do the will of God to serve as a mentor to young people that they can be anything they want to if they just believe and put God first and then in themselves. This has made me a spokesperson for disabled employees.”
Dr. Pendleton has been married for 43 years to the love of her life, Bishop Dr. Walter Pendleton with whom she has three children.