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Human 'Computer' Honored in NASA Facility Renaming

A NASA facility in West Virginia was recently renamed in honor of West Virginia native Katherine Johnson, who played a pivotal role in the first US mission to the moon. Johnson was depicted by actress Taraji P. Henson in the Oscar-nominated 2017 film Hidden Figures. She worked for NASA at a time when the term human “computer” was a title given to those in charge of the advanced calculations required to make accurate orbital trajectories. In the film Johnson was able to outperform the machines that were brought in to replace her.

Johnson was also honored by her alma mater West Virginia State University. WVSU president Anthony Jenkins said, “Katherine has embodied the true essence of a West Virginian; strong values, unbreakable resolve, and a work ethic that is second to none.” Johnson was also awarded the Medal of Freedom in 2015 from former president Barack Obama.

Her daughter Katherine Moore was in attendance at the NASA renaming ceremony, and was grateful for the lasting impact of her mother’s legacy. Moore said, “It’s just an awesome feeling to know that women like mom—and there are lots of them—have been recognized for their quality of work at NASA.” Moore said her mother’s consistent message was to “follow your passion, work hard, and be prepared whenever the opportunity presents itself.”

Potential Preaching Angles: Be prepared to act when opportunities present themselves. Special honor is bestowed upon those who diligently serve in humility, especially despite a lack of recognition or in a time of injustice.

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