Graduation season is rapidly approaching for many and the speaker announcements have begun. Hampton University has announced that Katherine Johnson will serve as the University’s 147th Commencement speaker on May 14, 2017.
Johnson, played by Taraji P. Henson in 20th Century Fox’s critically acclaimed project Hidden Figures, is the real life mathematician, physicist and space scientist depicted in the film.
Having recently been applauded at this year’s Oscars, Johnson is not only an American treasure, but also an innovator for Black women in STEM. She’s won numerous awards for her career efforts, including the Medal of Freedom from former President Barack Obama, who perfectly summed up her legacy.
“From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones,” President Obama said. “Katherine Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”
Speaking at the university will be a full circle family moment because all of Johnson’s daughters are graduates of Hampton University–Joylette Goble Hylick, ’62, Constance Goble Garcia (deceased), ’73, and Katherine Goble Moore, ’70. Johnson is married to Lt. Col. USA (ret) James A. Johnson, who also graduated from Hampton in 1952. Johnson has six grandchildren (three of whom graduated from HU) and 11 great-grandchildren.