Physicist, mathematician and influential engineer behind the early NASA missions that sent John Glenn and Alan Shepard into space, Katherine G. Johnson will be gracing the podium at Armstrong Stadium on May 14 as commencement speaker at Hampton University’s graduation ceremony. 

Johnson, who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the Hollywood feature film Hidden Figures, has received numerous awards for her groundbreaking work and was the 2015 recipient of the highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind," said former President Barack Obama. "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. Katherine Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”

Johnson and Hampton University are both synonymous with black excellence. The West Virginia State College graduate and her late husband James Goble, proudly sent their three daughters to HU. Spring 2017 HU grads are in for a real treat as this dynamic woman graces the stage to dish out priceless words of wisdom to get them off to a flawless start.