Not all University of Guam sophomore students can claim genius in their ancestry, but Trevor Boykin can trace his back to 1918, the year his paternal great-grandmother Katherine Johnson, was born. A mathematician, physicist, and space scientist, Katherine was an integral part of NASA’s early space program. Her contributions were vital to the successful launching of astronauts such as Alan Shepard and John Glenn into space. Trevor is ecstatic that his great-grandmother’s remarkable life is being featured in the major motion picture, Hidden Figures.
Trevor is organizing a special showing of the movie on Saturday, January 7th at 12:45 pm in the Micronesia Mall Theaters. He wants to spread the message that anybody, no matter his or her background, can become a scientist and have a successful career. The proceeds from the $10 movie showing will provide a UOG science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) student with a scholarship in Katherine Johnson’s honor.
Katherine Johnson is thrilled to be alive at 98 years young and to be a witness of the release of a movie about her life. She was born on a farm in West Virginia, and in her small town, the school for African Americans only had classes up to 8th grade. Her teachers noticed her aptitude for mathematics and suggested that her family move with her to a larger town where she could continue her studies. She graduated high school at age 14 and at 18 graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia State University. She attended graduate school at the University of West Virginia, where she was chosen to be the first African American woman to desegregate the graduate school. Katherine overcame the sexism and racism of the times to become a respected scientist in her field.
Trevor remembers visiting his “cool scientist lady” great-grandmother as a child. As a fifth grader Trevor recalls doing a report on his great-grandmother and her work at NASA. “At that time, I had no idea what a courageous and important barrier-breaking life she had,” he said. Katherine taught him to play chess, encouraged him to read, go outside, and take an interest in the natural world. Her advice to her great-grandson is simple but profound: “Remember, no one is better than you, and you are no better than anyone.” He is carrying on the scientific tradition of his great-grandmother as a biology major at the University of Guam and working as a Watershed Liaison with UOG Sea Grant. He calls the ocean his second home and marine science is his passion.
You can purchase a ticket to the movie showing and make additional donations to the scholarship fund at www.supportuog.org or the UOG CNAS Dean’s Office, Room 206 in the Agriculture and Life Sciences Building. Micronesia Mall Theater doors will open at 12:15pm on January 7. Prior to the showing, there will be giveaways and a special introduction by Trevor. Seats are limited.