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Influential Women: Katherine Johnson

Happy Women’s History Month, collegiettes! March was officially declared Women’s History Month by Congress in 1987. HC Dickinson is excited to highlight influential women throughout this month, and the next woman we want to celebrate is Katherine Johnson.


You may not have heard of Katherine Johnson (1918 – ) until she was depicted in Hidden Figures by Taraji P. Henson. However, Johnson has a long list of remarkable accomplishments. She skipped several grades throughout her secondary school career due to her intelligence and went on to be the first African American woman selected to attend graduate school at West Virginia University. Johnson enrolled in a math program and worked as a teacher until 1953, when she began working at West Area Computing section at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA’s) Langley laboratory. NACA is now known as NASA.

Katherine Johnson went on to contribute to the launch of Sputnik in 1957 as well as Alan Shepard’s mission, Freedom 7, in 1961. Johnson is most known for her work on John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission beginning in 1962. John Glenn even personally requested that Katherine Johnson double-check the numbers and equations by hand prior to the mission! Thanks to Johnson, Glenn’s mission was a success. Johnson received the 2015 National Medal of Freedom.

Our favorite quote from Katherine Johnson? “Know how to learn. Then, want to learn.”

Loff, S. (2016, November 22). Katherine Johnson Biography. Retrieved from https://www.nasa.gov/content/katherine-johnson-biography

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Goeun Choi


Goeun is a senior psychology major and Senior Editor at Dickinson College. She works at the career center on campus and is involved in her chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta and in Psi Chi. French bulldogs, Mexican food (or any food), and bad reality TV are her weaknesses. Find her on Instagram at @goeun. 
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