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Happy 100th Birthday Ms. Katherine Johnson!

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by kkrish, Aug 26, 2018.

  1. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    johnsonk.jpg
    Picture source: NASA.gov

    A 100 years!!! Today is Ms. Katherine Johnson’s 100th birthday. She was one of the three ladies, and the lead role, featured in the movie and the book, “Hidden Figures”.

    Today as she celebrates her 100th birthday with her husband, daughters, and numerous other relatives and friends, it is time to reflect on the life of this living legend.

    Just a few words and some of her memorable quotes.

    Born in West Virginia August 26, 1918 Ms. Johnson was always interested in numbers. She says that she counted everything – “the steps to the road, the steps up to church, number of dishes and silverware I washed…anything that could be counted, I did”.

    Katherine graduated with a B.S. in Mathematics and French in 1937 when she was just 19 and she and her husband Jimmy Goble were teachers and their income was very modest. Katherine would sew clothes for her three daughters and worked as a live-in help for a summer vacationing family to make ends meet.

    It was in 1952 when a relative told her about job openings at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Langley, Virginia. She and her husband, James Goble moved to Virginia and Katherine Goble began her work in 1953.

    When Katherine joined NACA she was faced with discrimination. However, she decided to push others behavior as demons to a place that will never bother her, and decided to focus her attention to her work and the job she loves – mathematics.

    She spent the first four years of her job analyzing data from flight test, and worked on investigation of a plane crash caused by wake turbulence. It was at this time that she was juggling her job and taking care of her sick husband who had cancer.

    In December 1956 her husband passed away just as she was wrapping up her work. I cannot imagine how hard it must have been for her at this time of her life.

    After one year after her husband’s passing away, Katherine met with her daughters' school principal and told that the girls “should not be given any special treatment or let up on them in any way. They are going to college and need to be prepared”.

    She also set many rules on how to run the household with her two daughters. She said they should have her clothes ironed and ready and dinner prepared before she come home in the evening. She was mother and father, love and discipline, the sole breadwinner.

    Three years later she married her current husband Col. James Johnson.

    In 1958 when she was roped in the NASA’s Space Task Group for NASA’s project mercury to put Alan Shepard’s trajectory she said, “Let me do it. You tell me when you want it and where you want it to land, and I’ll do it backwards and tell you when to take off”.She only had to take into account the rotation of the Earth, which is why working backwards from the landing site was easier than working forwards.

    In 1962 she was asked to check the computers calculations manually, for astronaut John Glenn’s space flight. These calculations were extremely complex and the astronauts were hesitant to put their lives at risk, not trusting the machines calculations, which were well known for their many hiccups. John Glenn had asked to “get the girl” and went up only after she calculated and programed the computer by hand.

    She played a major role in the Apollo mission also. She helped calculate exactly how the lunar lander could rendezvous and dock with the service module to bring the astronauts back to Earth. “Everybody was concerned about them getting there; we were concerned about them getting back,” said Johnson. That’s a lot of math, and it’s thanks to her impeccable work that the process was successful.

    Katherine Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor in 2015. NASA Langley had dedicated their new Computational Research Facility building to her in 2017.
    What an inspiring lady!


    Some of her quotes:
    “I don't have a feeling of inferiority. Never had. I'm as good as anybody, but no better.”

    “Know how to learn. Then, want to learn.”

    “Like what you do, and then you will do your best.”

    “We will always have STEM with us. Some things will drop out of the public eye and will go away, but there will always be science, engineering, and technology. And there will always, always be mathematics.”

    Information sources and some excerpted from:
    Hidden Figures - Margot Lee Shetterly
    The Portalist.com
    Brainy Quotes

    (Note 1: I had not enough time to provide more information because I wanted to post this today. I had the privilege of signing her birthday card that my organization is sending to her today)
    (Note 2: I plan to write about 10 women who were beacons to society. Selecting the 10 amongst the thousands of women is my toughest job)
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  2. jskls

    jskls Finest Post Winner

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    Nice article, Great person, very informative and thanks for sharing
     
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  3. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @jskls.

    I sincerely value your first feedback.
     
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  4. ashima10

    ashima10 Platinum IL'ite

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    Wow....i have no words to exactly jot my feelings ! More power to to her...
    thanks for the Post @kkrish .

    Hope everything is good with you :)
     
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  5. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @ashima10
    Yes, she was one of those thousands of women who beat all the odds and overcame/overcome the many hurdles lifes places before them.
    It seems Ms. Katherine never boasted about herself or her work even to her daughters. She had this quiet diginity and just gave all her best to eveything she did.

    I am doing good ma. Thanks for asking. Very sweet of you.
     
  6. Rihana

    Rihana Finest Post Winner

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    Thanks for sharing, kkrish. I had heard about the movie and was happy it got made and their work got more public notice, but didn't know about her 100th birthday and the challenges she overcame.

    Indeed there are so many women who have quietly done their bit and much more for both women and their area of expertise, but we do not know much about them. Looking forward to the series and the anticipation of who will be the next as the series grows.
     
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  7. GeetaKashyap

    GeetaKashyap IL Hall of Fame

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    Kkrish,
    Nice article. I have read about her and I am waiting to catch up with that movie too. Her achievement is indeed remarkable.
     
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  8. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @Rihana
    Yes many women's roles in history have not been published. Instead most of the attention is placed on glitz and sensationalism.

    I hope my selection of women will serve as beacons and inspirations for women that nothing is to big to overcome.
     
  9. kkrish

    kkrish IL Hall of Fame

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    Thank you @GeetaKashyap .
    Yes please see the movie Hidden Figures.
    Also, may I recommend the book and movie, October Sky?
     
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  10. girvani

    girvani Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Kkrish Mam

    Superb article. She showed us what is women empowerment. Great collation of her biography. You have summarised is very nicely. Thank you so much.
    Vani
     
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