Black scholars across the country are displaying excellence and making history in the process. According to WLFI, Amber Johnson recently became the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in computer science at Purdue University.
Johnson’s passion for technology developed at an early age. She received her first computer before she turned 10 and enjoyed fixing tech gadgets. She took her love for tech into adulthood and earned an undergraduate degree in computer science from LeMoyne-Owen College and her master’s degree from Jackson State. While pursuing her Ph.D. in computer science at Purdue she was mentored by Dr. Raquel Hill who was the first Black woman to earn a computer science Ph.D. from Harvard 17 years ago. Dr. Hill hooded Johnson during her graduation ceremony.
For Johnson, representation in STEM is important. She is using her journey as an avenue to inspire others; similar to how Dr. Hill inspired her to break barriers in computer science. “I don’t look the stereotypical computer scientist,” she told The Exponent in a statement. “You don’t find many black women in this academic space. This is what computer science can look like.” Outside of her studies, Johnson has been dedicated to paying it forward and empowering the next generation of tech leaders. She volunteers with Black Girls Rock Tech and Girls Who Code.
As far as her next chapter, Johnson will serve as a software engineer at Northrup Grumman; a company focused on defense and aerospace technology. Dr. Hill is beyond proud of Johnson’s accomplishment. “It’s not just for us, it is for others,” she said in a statement. “It’s for others to actually see us and understand what they are able also to accomplish.”