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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. 

blue-quote-left 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

The Original "Human Computers"

  • 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 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 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

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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.  

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

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

Hidden Figures at Spelman College