CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia State University honored one of the best female African American mathematicians today on her birthday and her official day.

Today is Katherine Johnson day in West Virginia. Johnson, a West Virginia State Alumna, calculated flight paths of many spacecrafts while working at NASA at the beginning of the space age.

Outside of the Katherine Johnson Statue on West Virginia State University’s Campus, people gathered to honor Johnson, who died last February.

“Great opportunity to bring our community together and honor her legacy which started here in West Virginia and here on the campus of West Virginia State University,” Ericke Cage, Vice President and Chief of Staff at West Virginia State University said.

Johnson was born in White Sulfur Springs, WV and graduated from WVSU. She joined NASA in 1953 as one of the first black female mathematicians in the space program.

“Seeing a black woman achieve this – especially a black woman from West Virginia is it’s amazing. I’ve grown up here my entire life and just being able to see that I have a role model at an institution that I attend, especially an HBCU is absolutely amazing,” Angelica Allison, Student Government Association President said.

Most people loved Johnson’s persistence.

“She didn’t give up and quit. Like everything she did just did not quit. There were many adversities that she had to face that I would never have to face in my lifetime,” Allison said.  

The program featured a wreath laying at the statue and brief remarks about Johnson’s life, legacy and impact on her alma mater and the nation.

It shows the younger generation again that the sky is the limit. Katherine had said that you reach for the stars and you can grab them with the support of the community and education,” Cage said.

Katherine Johnson was 101 years old when she died last February. The West Virginia legislature named today Katherine Johnson Day in 2017.