The Hardworking and Fearless Katherine Johnson

by Khushi Sarolia from San Diego , California in United States

124869Picture of Katherine Johnson woman was sitting at her front of her desk, pondering if whether she would do anything with her life, or make an impact. She was joyous, thinking about her family and how they would feel about following her dream. Who knew that a woman who had a dream would leave a mark on society with her passion for math and her skills as a mother. Katherine Johnson is currently a 99 year old woman, who had a rough beginning, but later on became impactful to others because she was one of the first of many African Americans to work at NASA (Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson). While growing up in Virginia, Katherine had the opportunity to pursue her passion for math. When she was just 10 years old, she had already started high school. By 18, she already had degrees in math and English (Feltman). She later became a school teacher for a short time but soon had the opportunity to work for NASA as one of the first African Americans at the organization. While working for NASA, she used her skill in calculations to improve US spacecraft and other important projects ("Katherine Johnson, Wild). All the while, she and her husband also raised three kids. Her family kept her grounded as a normal, everyday American despite her unique aptitude for math. She still pursued herself improvement, and split her time between family and friends and work. Katherine also stood up for her rights and for many others who were so scared to do so. She gave people hope, another reason to believe in the determination and fierce intelligence of women ("Katherine Johnson.", Aupperlee). A hero needs many characteristics to stand out and Katherine Johnson inspires in many ways. Katherine is fearless and smart, rising above her work and adversity. A mentor, mother, teacher, wife, and NASA employee, Katherine Johnson changed the world with her calculations by working hard in her childhood years to pursue her passion for math and being fearless by being one of the only African Americans working at NASA during the time of segregation.

124871Picture of Katherine at work Johnson needed to work hard to be who she is now, but she also had some hard times and passed through those days to become trusted. One way Katherine showed that she was hardworking was that she had noticed that many of her workers looked down on her because of her race, but she continued to persevere through her difficult work. As a NASA employee, Katherine Johnson had to work hard to balance her work and her family but also keep up with the speed of needing to complete her calculations in short period of time. In 1937, she was at college studying many classes, “Matriculating at the college, she took every math course offered, as studying advanced subjects under the guidance of her professors. She also studied English and French, and in 1937 the 18-year-old Johnson graduated summa cum laude in French and mathematics,("Katherine Johnson.")  Not only she was interested in math but also in foreign languages, like French, and additionally majored in English. She is hardworking because she completed multiply tasks between her math classes and other intense classes. Katherine Johnson was not like many others; many people would have excelled in one subject, then pass the other subjects. Katherine was excellent in all her subjects and tried hard to pass, as well as to be passionate about them. At first, Katherine Johnson did well during her elementary through high school years, even skipping a couple of grades. This made things difficult, they would have to do things by hand, it gave them hand cramps, and other physical pain, But they were relying on women, and one of them was Katherine Johnson. NASA didn't operate computers at the time, they had to use women like Katherine Johnson, ”We hadn't designed computers that could crunch numbers  as a super smart human in those days of early spaceflight, but taking care of these calculations was considered grunt work. So scientists relied on the flawless mathematical computations of rooms full of women, (Feltman)”.When Katherine was working for NASA, she lived through the segregation stage and Civil Rights Movement, so it was hard for her to do her math and make calculations while still being African American and working.  This demonstrates her fearlessness because, since they still haven't used computers, and also know how to operate them. She and others had many people look at their calculations. She was at a point, when she was being isolated from everyone, and now she is one of them. Katherine was hardworking because she was working for NASA, at the same time she was working during the Civil Rights movement, being in a room filled with whites males, with a few African American women. After she was hired, she was already doing the calculations for the next project, which made many speechless. One of her projects was with Neil Armstrong, which was going to the moon, “Her calculations helped land Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969. Johnson calculated Apollo 11's flight path into orbit around the moon, … Johnson made the star map that the astronauts used to chart their minute-by-minute journey.("Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson." )”. When she was able to have one man go around the Earth, she started a road map for others, who are going to the Moon and beyond. She is fearless because she was able to create a starting point where others couldn't. She is still fearless by standing up for what was right and she also stood up for others too during dark times, ("Katherine Johnson.", Wild ).During the Civil Rights movement, Katherine Johnson had been working hard to change the rules for segregation, and also being fearless in front of others, showing them that she will not be disrespected by others (Feltman). She not only helped  NASA with the calculations, but she was also is a mother, which has its own challenges as well. She had to be early for work and also take care of the family, which is one of the reasons why she is a hardworking person. Throughout Katherine Johnson’s life, she had easy subjects which allowed her to surpass some grades, and then she was reaching her “ halfway”, she was having many challenging times, but in the end she passed through it, and was also happy that she was pushed, because then she wouldn't be able to know what she couldn't do. After the bathroom situation, she pushed for a solution: they had only two kinds of bathrooms, one for women, and the other for men regardless of skin color.The people would have to accept that they were going to have African Americans working with them. She was soon rewarded for her work, ”Her work helped Alan Shepard, the first American in space, return safely. She calculated John Glenn's pioneering orbit around the Earth. President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom (Aupperlee). Katherine worked hard, earning many medals, including the Medal of Freedom. She was awarded because she was able to create a safe landing for Alan Shepard, the first man to go to space. This quote shows that she is a hardworking person is because used her math skills to had a man go around the earth, and come back safely, which then led her of having an award, to honor her successes with others.

Not only did Katherine Johnson show that she is a hardworking person, but she is also fearless. She is fearless because, since she began working during a time of segregation she, along with others, changed the rules and helped African Americans and whites to work as one, instead of  using each other. Before she was working for NASA, she was a school teacher and helping others with math. It wasn't until her college professor told her she had the capability to work for something bigger that she could have had a difference on many people while she was working there, she wouldn't have had that gratitude if she was working as a school teacher.  During her time there, Katherine Johnson was not included in many things. Just by a gaze she was already discouraged for herself, and for other African Americans, but they didn't have computers that were invented or they never knew how to operate one.Though her high school years were easy, she began struggling when she began working for NASA. When she first worked for NASA things were different for her, it was not her usual day, “It's impossible to imagine all the hardships these women had to overcome. Johnson, for her part, was the only person on NASA's Space Task Force who wasn't a white male. While her mathematical prowess helped launch men into space, NASA's black "human computers" were kept in a separate facility from their white colleagues - one that reportedly lacked restrooms. (Feltman)".  She would have to go to great lengths just to get things done. One example would be using the restroom. Katherine would go to the other side of the campus just to use the restroom because she was not allowed to use the restroom near her, she was an African American. She often brought her work with her because she had to get it finished, just to stay up to the speed and get home to her kids. She is fearless because she struck a balance between being a mother and still successfully overcoming obstacles as a NASA employee. Katherine was an African American who was segregated against in the office, but that didn't stop her from being one of the smartest, most respected people in her industry. In doing so, Katherine Johnson was making a difference and proving that anyone could help the world regardless of the color of their skin. In addition, she was also a fearless person.  She was fearless by being one of the strongest African Americans because she would feel unsafe when she would be working with her bosses.

124883Picture of Katherine Johnson as a Barbie doll Johnson inspires in many ways. One way she inspires others is by being one of the Barbie dolls. Katherine, and some others were chosen to be role models to others (Aupperlee,Wild). When I am older, I hope that I can be like Katherine Johnson because we both share the passion for teaching others and for math. However, I don't feel like I will be discouraged by the people around me. Another reason she inspires me is because she tried her hardest for everything. Hard work pays off, ”Persistence paid off, however, as did Johnson's stellar work. She queried her male counterparts in detail about briefings and was not shy about suggesting that she be present. At one point, a man who had co-authored one of her reports stood up to a boss who wanted her name excluded from the document, arguing that he was transferring away, and besides, Johnson had done most of the work,("Katherine Johnson."). When Katherine was working for NASA, she was one of the few African Americans who worked in a white man’s race. Many people were against have African American special women to work with them and have them be part of something big like in a space race, but that didn't stop Katherine. She was already done with the work (that was assisted) and she didn't mind about their race and color, she just wanted to do the math. She is my hero because she cared for her family and friends and was passionate about math, and I could relate because I didn't think about how I was going to get married and have kids but instead on school special math, and also my family and friends. We had our support from our teachers, family, and friends, which kept us going (for most of the time). Katherine Johnson was mostly remembered for her skill in math, when she was helping with the space race, was also remember how hard she had worked and how fearless she was during dark times; but for many others like me she is a hero, because she not only cares about her family but others too, through her mentoring skills (Wild,"Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson." )

Aupperlee, Aaron. "NASA math nerd, 'Hidden Figures' star Katherine Johnson among latest Barbies." Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [Pittsburgh,PA], Mar. 2018. Biography In Context, Accessed 8 May 2018.

Feltman, Rachel. "NASA's computers used to wear skirts. They're finally getting the attention they deserve." Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2016.
Biography In Context, 8 May 2018.

"Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson." Contemporary Black Biography, vol. 61, Gale, 2007. Biography In Context, Accessed 8 May 2018.

"Katherine Johnson." Encyclopedia of World Biography, vol. 37, Gale, 2017. Biography In Context, Accessed 8 May 2018.

Wild, Flint. “Katherine Johnson: A Lifetime of STEM.” NASA, NASA, 16 Nov. 2015,


Page created on 5/23/2018 4:45:20 AM

Last edited 9/12/2018 6:12:23 PM

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