By now, we know that Black Girl Magic is indeed genetic, passed down from generation to generation. Virginia third grader Na Kia Boykin proved this to be true when she scored a perfect score of 600 on her mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) test. What makes her success even sweeter is she seems to be following in the footsteps of her great-grandmother, NASA’s “human computer” Katherine Johnson.
“I like math because I can look at a problem and figure it out,” Na Kia explained after being honored at a school assembly, according to the Daily Press. “You can just look at the problem and do it. You use the numbers, and you use your brain. It’s a good challenge.”
Many learned of Johnson's contributions to mathematics and engineering on a full-scale thanks to the 2016 movie adaption of the best selling book Hidden Figures. Now, the mathematician (who turns 100 years old this August) has found her rightful place as an icon for women in STEM disciplines. Her great-granddaughter is taking pride in keeping her legacy going.
“Na Kia definitely looks up to her,” Na Kia's father, Douglas Boykin, the son of Katherine Johnson’s middle daughter, said. “My grandmother is getting up there, and they’re not the same conversations that I had with her growing up, but it means a lot to Na Kia. My grandmother always says that learning is a lifetime, and Na Kia knows this is just the beginning.”
He further explained Na Kia specifically said she wanted to aim for a perfect 600 on the math SOL test.
“I told her she would get a 500 at least, but I said, ‘Don’t be disappointed if you get a 585 or something. She came in the door the next day and said, ‘What do you think I got?’ I said, ‘585.’ She said, ‘Higher than that," he said. “Finally she said, ‘I got all of ‘em! I got a perfect 600!’ And I started screaming like it was the Super Bowl.”
According to Michelle Price, spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools, Na Kia was one of 59 Newport News elementary school students to score a 600 on this year’s math SOLs.
Katherine Johnson was not able to attend the awards ceremony. However, she continues to play a very active role in Na Kia's extended family and is still inspiring the next generation. Next up for Na Kia is a science camp this summer the future educator is looking forward to attending.
“I always want to be helping other people learn,” she said. “And I want everyone to know me when they see me. I want people to say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Na Kia Boykin!’”
Believe us, you're on your way, Na Kia!