West Virginia State University Dedicates Statue, Scholarship to Katherine Johnson

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
Aug. 25, 2018
West Virginia State University Dedicates Statue, Scholarship to Katherine Johnson
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University dedicated a scholarship and unveiled a statue today, Saturday, Aug. 25, honoring NASA mathematician and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Katherine Johnson.

An estimated crowd of more than 600 attended the ceremony, which featured remarks from NASA astronaut Dr. Yvonne Cagle as well as Johnson’s daughters, Joylette Hylick and Katherine Moore, and WVSU President Anthony L. Jenkins.

“It is my hope that my daughters and all of my students at West Virginia State University see this monument as an example of what they can accomplish when they dedicate themselves, work towards a greater cause and remain cognizant of their own strength and always seek to do better, be better and want better,” said President Jenkins.

The life-sized bronze statue depicting Johnson during her years as a mathematician at NASA was created by West Virginia sculptor Frederick Hightower, an alumnus of WVSU. During Saturday’s ceremony, six of Johnson’s grandchildren pulled back the veil to reveal the statue. The statue stands between Cole Complex and Dawson Hall on WVSU’s campus.

Prior to the unveiling of the statue, an endowed scholarship in Johnson’s name was also dedicated and the first two scholarship recipients were recognized. Jasiaha Daniels, a freshman from Charleston, W.Va., majoring biology, and Alexis Scudero, a freshman from Gandeeville, W.Va., majoring in computer science, were named as the first two scholarship recipients.

The scholarship will build upon Johnson’s legacy as a pioneer in mathematics and will benefit West Virginia students majoring in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) with emphasis on assisting talented individuals who are underrepresented in those fields.

Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, the highest award that can be bestowed upon a civilian. A native of White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Johnson first came to Institute at the age of 10 to attend the high school that used to be part of West Virginia State’s campus. After graduating from high school at age 15, she immediately enrolled for college classes at West Virginia State. Johnson excelled in her studies and graduated summa cum laude in 1937 at the age of 18 with bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and French.

Johnson’s pioneering work as a “computer” at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and later at NASA, has been widely recognized following publication of the book, “Hidden Figures,” and by the movie of the same name.

For more information, please contact Patricia Schumann, vice president for University Advancement, at (304) 766-3021 or patricia.schumann@wvstateu.edu.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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