Lauren Murray
Category: 2021 College Winner

Lauren Murray

“Call her and if she says the computer is right, I’ll take it”, John Glenn said in 1962, referring to Katherine Johnson, prior to the historical Freedom 7 space flight. Johnson, an African-American female mathematician, successfully computed the flight pattern for the take off and landing of the Freedom 7 mission that put the US orbiting the Earth. Johnson’s love for Mathematics, and her strive for excellence despite all setbacks is one of the many reasons she was so highly regarded as a woman of color during her time. Her will and determination to use her passion to overcome insurmountable odds is a constant reminder that, as a woman, I can do anything that I set my mind to.

As a young girl, Johnson had a love for numbers that led her to enter high school at the age of 13. Likewise, my love for math and science was ignited in an elementary school classroom as I realized most of life can be explained by numbers. Most girls enjoyed art and music class, but I always looked forward to pulling out my math or science textbook. Seeing that Johnson had this same love and passion for mathematics has given me a sense of assurance and belonging in a field that is primarily male.

Despite her color, Johnson rose to a place where she was not only the first woman to receive credit as an author of a report in the Flight Research Division but stood beside fellow Americans to work towards getting the first man on the moon. Her ability to see beyond the racial injustices of her time shows a woman of high moral character, which inspires me to look past injustices in my life and look forward to contributing to greater good.

There is an empowerment that I find through Ms. Johnson’s passion for math. Her mathematical breakthroughs have led to the education and impact of thousands of people. If it was not for her, many textbooks would not have been written nor would we have the ability to send and bring back people into space. This is a constant reminder to me that I can use my passion for science to lead breakthroughs in the medical world as I follow my passions and use them to help others.

Katherine Johnson’s life of accomplishment as an African American woman has inspired me to use what I was given in life to impact everyone despite their backgrounds, ethnicity, or gender. It’s no wonder why John Glenn trusted her over the times technology, her character and excellence in her field made all look past who she was on the outside. At times where I have felt lessthan, her courage and accomplishments have reminded me that I, too, am enough.