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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bowie State chapter.

Katherine G. Johnson, who was a mathematician for the U.S. NASA program, helped calculate the flight paths as the Apollo went into orbit. Katherine Johnson was born August 26, 1918, in West Virginia.

She always had a passion for numbers at a young age. As a child, she enrolled in high school and then graduated from West Virginia College studying math with high honors.

Soon after college, in 1953 she started working at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics which changed to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. While there she dealt with racism and discrimination that didn’t stop her work ethic.

She computed the calculations of the Freedom 7, which was the first U.S Airspace crewed flight to go up into space. 

Katherine became popular for her work with John Glenn. He wanted her to calculate his coordinates for his space mission, but requested that she calculated the coordinates by hand instead of a computer because the ones by computer were failing.

That mission was a success and was a turning point in history that ended the space race with the Soviet Union. She then retired from NASA in 1986 and received honors from President Obama such as the freedom medal. NASA recognized her accomplishments by naming a building after her, “The Katherine G. Johnson Computation Facility”. 

She later died on February 20, 2020, at age101 years old. She helped pave the way for young women who wanted to be mathematicians in a male dominated industry.

It was important to me to write about Katherine Johnson’s story because she is the reason that most of the astronauts made it back safely due to her great calculations and math skills. Also, it wasn’t an easy job to have because of the racism she faced and the unequal pay she received because she was black. 

Katherine was doubted heavily by her peers and she proved them wrong every time with her calculations. She continued to push through obstacles and became one of the most influential women in her time.

She is someone women today can always look up to. Katherine will always be remembered and so will her story.

Jada Champ

Bowie State '26

Jada is a Freshman nursing Major class of 2026 at Bowie State University. Jada wants to be a labor and delivery nurse and in hopes to open her own women’s center. She has an interest in Community service and Event planning.While getting accepted into Her Campus she hopes to meet new people and Gain more exposure to writing. Aside from the professional things she loves the color blue and enjoys pasta.