INSTITUTE, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia State University spent the day remembering one of their own alumni, mathematician Katherine Johnson, ahead of the day named in her honor.
On Friday, Aug. 25, the school hosted a memorial for Johnson, a Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. The West Virginia State Legislature named August 26 an official observance day for her birthday.
Johnson worked as a computer for the National Advisory Committee of Aeronautics’ all-black West Area Computing section starting in 1953, and later at NASA, from which she retired in 1986. She was a school teacher prior to taking the job with the NACA, according to NASA.
She was widely recognized after the book and movie “Hidden Figures” for her major accomplishments in math and science.
“We’re here today to celebrate the life and legacy of Katherine Johnson, one of our most prominent alums, frankly, a hero here in West Virginia and across our country,” said WVSU President Ericke Cage. “And these scholarships really speak to continued commitment to that legacy.”
Three people were awarded the Katherine Johnson Scholarship Friday after a wreath laying for her memorial.
According to her NASA biography, Johnson graduated from WVSU, then called West Virginia State College, in 1937 with her bachelor of science degree in Mathematics and French. She was born Aug. 26, 1918 in White Sulfer Springs, West Virginia, and died Feb. 24, 2020 at the age of 101.