"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
~ Howard Thurman
My Story

With a childhood dream to become an astronaut, I dedicated my life to science at an early age.


After earning two engineering degrees from Stanford, a U.S. Air Force officer commission, and an astronautical engineering PhD from the Naval Postgraduate School, I could actually say I was a rocket scientist!

For 20 years I followed my chosen path, until the shape of my eyeballs disqualified me and shattered my astronaut dream.  

In the years since, I've learned new ways of being. I've realigned my life with my passions for creativity, human connection, leadership, mindful living, and building resilience.

My journey has taught me that identity and goals are not synonymous, that even major disappointments hold gifts beyond imagining, and that every experience leads us closer to our purpose on this earth.

I'm truly living my dream every day — dancing with our magical universe.

The Barefoot Dancing Rocket Scientist

In my mid 20s, one of my favorite activities was swing and country dancing. In my late 20s, I started running barefoot. A month after I turned 30, I earned my astronautical engineering PhD. "The Barefoot Dancing Rocket Scientist" emerged from what I did, but it's become so much more. It's an embodiment of who I'm being in the world.



For me, the barefoot piece is about grounding. It's about connecting with the earth, the moment, the wisdom of our bodies, and all the deep sources of knowing that are available to us. It’s about finding beauty and simplicity in all things natural, whether it’s natural movement, leveraging our natural gifts and strengths, or connecting with the most natural, true, and aligned story of who we really are.


The dancing piece is about connection. It’s about artistry and teamwork. A strong connection in partner dancing helps you sense signals and timing. It helps you make smooth transitions between leading and following. On a cosmic scale, the universe is our dance partner. It offers us inspiration and infinite creative potential. In the dance we recognize the magic of synchronicity, sense the signals and timing of life, take aligned action, and find awe in every moment. 

Rocket Scientist

The rocket science piece is about resilience, which I define as our access to our own inner power no matter what circumstances we face. People love saying, “It’s not rocket science.” To me, everything is rocket science. With no math or equations, rocket science is really about letting go to lift off, acknowledging progress and adjusting course, and going from where we are to where we want to be. Those basic principles will see us through every aspect of life.

Core Values


Experience Wonder and Awe


Laugh with Delight


Boldly Go

Learn More

You can find out more about my story and life journey in my book, Running the World: Marathon Memoirs from the Seven Continents. Whether you're a seasoned runner, an armchair traveler, or a fellow human on the path of creating a more meaningful and fulfilling life, I hope my story will inspire you!

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Book Summary


See the world through the eyes of runner, dreamer, and hardworking free spirit Melissa Corley Carter in this stunning book of photography and inspirational reflection. As she runs marathons on each of the seven continents, Melissa discovers new dimensions to the beauty of life and the purpose of her soul. This book will take you on a visual tour around the world while sharing guidance and philosophy for running your world.

Credentials & Certifications
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