Stephanie Louise Kwolek was born on July 31, 1923 in New Kensington, Pennsylvania to parents John and Nellie Kwolek. As a young girl, while watching her mother sew she became interested in fashion, drawing and designing patterns for doll clothes and later sewing her own clothes – at one point Stephanie thought she might pursue a career in fashion design. Her father, a foundry worker, died when she was ten years old, but during her early years he encouraged her to also explore nature.
She and her father would spend hours in the woods looking for plants, animals and insects. By her own account, like her father, she had a keen sense of curiosity and read more than most children her age. She would later remark that those characteristics set her apart from her peers and served her well later in her career.
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