2019 FOCUS Academy Participants with President Cabrera, Katherine Johnson family
and the co-founders of the FOCUS program Kelly Knight and Padhu Seshaiyer
On June 19, 2019, Bull Run Hall at GMU’s Science and Tech Campus in Prince William county was renamed to Katherine G. Johnson Hall for her accomplishments at NASA. Thanks to her calculations of orbital mechanics, the American space program was able to achieve success with the first manned space flights as well as many more to follow, including the rendezvous paths for the Apollo lunar lander and command module on flights to the Moon. Her historic contributions were depicted in “Hidden Figures” where Taraji P. Henson portrayed her as the lead character.
Although Johnson, 100, was unable to attend, her daughters, Katherine Moore and Joylette Hylick, and grandson, Troy Hylick, were present to accept the honor.
Echoing Johnson’s drive to overcome institutional racism and sexism and to inspire future generations of scientists, assistant professor Kelly Knight of the Forensic Science Program and the STEM Accelerator outreach coordinator was also in attendance along with the 2019 FOCUS (Females of Color Underrepresented in STEM) Academy students.
“The building’s naming means that inspiring the many coming behind her could ultimately be Johnson’s greatest legacy… This is a reminder to young people of color. We too, deserve to have a seat at the STEM table,” Knight said.