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Math Majors at Spelman

Math Majors on the Move

"Hidden Figures" Star Meets STEM Majors on the Leading Edge of Change

In celebration of the movie, "Hidden Figures," Spelman College hosted a lively question and answer discussion with actor and musical artist Janelle Monáe, who plays Mary Jackson, and Pharrell Williams who scored the music and produced the film. 


Most Americans have no idea that from the 1940s through the 1960s, a cadre of African-American women formed part of the country's space work force," Hidden Figures author Margot Lee Shetterly writes, adding that it's often unknown that this same group "helped provide blue-quote-rightNASA with the raw computing power it needed to dominate the heavens.

We Didn't Choose Mathematics. Mathematics Chose Us.

They come from across the nation and around the globe. They're bold. They're smart. They're fierce; and they will likely help solve some of the world's most difficult problems. Spelman math majors share why they choose to study mathematics, their plans for the future and what influenced their love affair with numbers. Also featured are brief bios of Dorothy Vaughn, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson, the African-American women mathematicians who helped win the space race and put the first American on the moon. "They crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and firmly cemented them into U.S. history as true American heroes."

Our Math Powerhouses

  • Valerie Camille Jones

    Spelman alumna Valerie Camille Jones
    Valerie Camille Jones, Ed.D., C’2000, was recently honored with the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, which is America’s highest honor in math and science for teachers.
  • Victoria Seals

    Victoria Seals, C'91
    Victoria Seals, Ed.D., C’91, is the sixth president of Atlanta Technical College. She previously held several leadership roles at Gwinnett Technical College, including vice president for academic affairs.
  • Talitha Washington Appointed Inaugural Data Science Initiative Director

    Spelman Mathematician Talitihia Washington
    Following an extensive national search, Spelman alumna, noted scholar, author, interdisciplinary researcher and innovator Talitha M. Washington, Ph.D., C’96, was recently named the director of the Atlanta University Center Consortium Data Science Initiative. She will begin her tenure as director in mid-August.
  • Cynthia Wallace Makes An Impact Through Strategic Leadership

    Spelman alumna Cynthia Wallace
    Cynthia Wallace, C’93, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party’s 9th Congressional District, recently became a member of the City of Charlotte Future 2040 Comprehensive Plan Strategic Advisors which will guide how investments are utilized in Charlotte, North Carolina over the next 20 years.
  • Daphne Smith Continues Spelman’s Legacy of Pioneering Women in STEM

    Spelman STEM alumna Daphne Smith
    In 1985, Smith became the first-ever Spelman graduate to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, and the first African American woman to earn a doctorate in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Nichole Johnson Named a 2020 Frederick Douglass Global Fellow

    Spelman Fredrick Dougals Scholarship Winner Nicole C. Johnson
    Spelman College rising sophomore Nichole Ciara Johnson, C’2023, has been selected as a 2020 Frederick Douglass Global Fellow. This honor awards her a full scholarship to represent Spelman in a summer study abroad program focused on leadership and intercultural communication that will be held in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Top Ten Graduate: Cendal Atkins, C'2020

    Spelman Class of 2020 Cendal Atkins
    Cendal Atkins will start medical school at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts in the fall.

The Original "Human Computers"

  • Hidden Figure: Mary Jackson

    Hidden Figures Mary Jackson
    Mary Winston Jackson, who is played by Janelle Monae in the film "Hidden Figures" earned her Bachelor of Science degrees in Mathematics and Physical Science at Hampton Institute and taught in Maryland before joining the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. She retired from the NASA Langley Research Center in 1985 as an aeronautical engineer after 34 years.
  • Hidden Figure: Katherine Johnson

    Hidden Figures Katherine Johnson
    Katherine Johnson, the main character in the movie "Hidden Figures," verified the mathematics behind John Glenn’s orbit around the Earth in 1962 and calculated the flight trajectory for Apollo 11’s flight to the moon in 1969. She retired from NASA in 1986.
  • Hidden Figure: Dorothy Vaughan

    Hidden Figures Dorothy Vaughan
    Dorothy Vaughan obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in 1929 from Wilberforce University In Xenia, Ohio. She worked as a teacher and then moved to Newport News where she obtained a position as a mathematician, one of the first African Americans to do so, at Langley Field for National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the forerunner of today’s NASA space program.

"Everything is physics and math."
- Katharine G. Johnson

Support Spelman's Math Majors

The Department of Mathematics relies on the support from alumnae and friends who share in our commitment to excellence. Individual and corporate gifts enable the department to enhance its programs and attract and retain STEM student scholars.

To make a secure gift to the Dr. Etta Z. Falconer Scholarship for Mathematics at Spelman College, use the button below, click the OTHER box and type "Falconer Scholarship" in the gift designation box.  

Make A Gift

College representatives are available to assist you in exploring the many giving options and structuring a gift that is right for you.

Please contact our fundraising team with additional questions.
Cassandra Joseph
Director, Corporate Relations and Partnerships

Work: 404-270-5067 | Cell: 404-798-6296

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The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race

Hidden Figures at Spelman College