Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician who broke racial and gender barriers, will receive a huge honor from her alma mater West Virginia State University, the U.S. News & World Report reported.
The institution will build a bronze statue in Johnson’s honor that will live on campus and create a scholarship fund named after her, the news outlet writes. Johnson’s contributions to STEM were highlighted in the film Hidden Figures. Often referred to as the “human computer” her math skills were instrumental in helping astronauts return to earth and were an integral part of furthering spatial research.
The scholarship fund—dubbed The Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson Scholarship—will be worth $100,000 and will be awarded to students from underrepresented groups who want to pursue careers in STEM. The statue, which will be 7-feet-tall, will be created by WVSU alumnus Frederick Hightower. The unveiling ceremony is slated to take place a day before Johnson turns 100-years-old on August 25. The first recipient of her scholarship will be announced on the same day.
“Rarely are we presented an opportunity to attach ourselves to a historic moment. I believe this is one of those times,” WVSU President Anthony Jenkins said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “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.” Patricia Schuman, West Virginia State University’s vice president for university advancement, added that she hopes Johnson’s journey inspires students to break barriers.
Johnson has received several honors for her contributions to STEM. Last year, NASA named a new computer research center after Johnson. In November 2015 Johnson received a Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama.
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