'Hidden Figure' Katherine Johnson To Be Honored By Her Alma Mater With A Bronze Statue

Photo credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP 

Since the inspiring stories of Katherine Johnson, alongside her fellow "human computers" Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughn, were depicted in the 2017 motion picture "Hidden Figures," the outpour of admiration and recognition for their contributions to NASA work continues to grow. Most recently, Johnson’s alma mater, West Virginia State University, announced last Thursday that they would be erecting a bronze statue on their campus and establishing a scholarship in her honor.

Johnson is a native of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia who was first introduced to WVSU's campus while in high school. She graduated from high school at the age of 15 and immediately enrolled in classes at the revered HBCU. She ultimately graduated summa cum laude at the age of 18 in 1937 completing bachelor's degrees in math and French.

WVSU President, Anthony L. Jenkins shared in a statement: "Despite her numerous accomplishments, she never forgot WVSU, White Sulphur Springs, nor the state she loves so dear. Then, as throughout her life, Katherine has embodied the true essence of a West Virginian; strong values, unbreakable resolve, and a work ethic that is second to none."

Photo via: NASA Langley 

Another WVSU alumnus has been selected to sculpt the anticipated life-sized statue. Artist Frederick Hightower has been asked to recreate an image of Johnson during her years serving as a mathematician with NASA based in Hampton, Virginia.

The new scholarship named for Johnson will be endowed by the university for $100,000 and will award students majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas, yet who have traditionally been underrepresented in these disciplines. There is also opportunity for individual donors who give $1,000 or more or organizations who give $25,000 or more by June 30th to be recognized on plaques that will be placed next to the statue.

Photo via: NASA Langley 

The new Johnson statue will be dedicated on campus on August 25th, the day before Johnson’s 100th birthday. It will be located in a central area of campus along with new seating and landscaping as the newest addition of inspiration to the campus.

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