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Black History Highlight: West Virginian mathematician critical to success of first spaceflight

BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - Born in White Sulphur Springs Katherine Johnson had a passion for math early in life.

However, Greenbrier County did not allow black people to attend public school after the 8th grade.

Instead, she began school at West Virginia State College at the age of ten.

Johnson graduated high school young and began attending West Virginia State.

She attended every math course that the college offered.

Johnson graduated college summa cum laude at the age of 18.

She was the first black woman to attend graduate school at WVU and was one of 3 black students.

She began working for NACA, National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (to later become NASA), in 1953.

She worked as a "virtual computer" calculating complex formulas for historic missions like the first spaceflight and Apollo 11.

To learn more about her amazing career and life, click here.

Bailey Pace

Social Media and Digital Content Manager

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