Dear GWSB Alumni,
Welcome to 2017! I hope the New Year is off to a good start for you and that you enjoyed some time relaxing with family and friends over the holidays. One of the things Brad, Shelby and I like to do over the holidays is catch up on movies at the theater. This year we enjoyed Rogue One and Hidden Figures. If you haven’t seen Hidden Figures yet, I encourage you to do so. It is the inspirational story of three brilliant and courageous African-American women at NASA – Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. The movie is based on the non-fiction book by the same name.
While there were many inspiring elements of the movie, I noticed particularly the role of education and learning in the lives of each of these women. Katherine was identified as exceptionally bright as a young child and encouraged by her teachers and supported by her parents to transfer to a school that would help develop her unique talents and abilities that were instrumental in the development of the space program. Dorothy recognized that the rise of computers would displace those that did calculations with pencils and calculators and taught herself to program in Fortran so she would become indispensable to NASA. Mary’s passion to become an engineer inspired her to challenge the court system so that she could get the education she needed to become the first black female aeronautical engineer at NASA and in the United States. These women’s relentless courage, brilliant intellect, and encouragement and support for one another were instrumental in one of the most historic and exciting times in our nation’s and the world’s history.
One of my favorite quotes from the movie was early on as an administrator at Katherine’s elementary school told her parents, “I’ve never seen a mind like the one your daughter has. You have to see what she becomes.” As alumni, you can play a role in developing and inspiring the minds of our students. Who knows who the next Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, or Mary Jackson will be – but I know we have many of them at GW and I look forward to our work together this year as we see what they become.
Linda A. Livingstone, PhD
Dean and Professor of Management