Dr. Christine Darden isn't afraid of a challenge.
The NASA mathematician and aerospace engineer inspired and delighted students, faculty, and staff on Ursuline's STEM Day.
Her courageous story had a continuous theme — why not me? She loves learning and stays curious. She dissected her talking doll when she was 5 years old to understand why it talked. During her senior year in high school, she took four math classes each semester.
"I fell in love with math during geometry at my Asheville, N.C. all-girls boarding school," said Darden, who went on to earn a master's degree in math and a PhD in engineering. "I saw the connection between geometry and the real world."
She graduated Virginia State University at 19 years old, and by 25, she was the first African American woman at NASA's Langley Research Center. Dr. Darden, nicknamed a "human computer," created her own computer programs to reduce the sonic boom with supersonic airplanes.
Darden soon became one of the researchers featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race.
"My days were always exciting days," she said.
Ursuline's event was in partnership with the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas. One of the biggest takeaways? Dr. Darden's "P to the fourth power."
"Perceive yourself in a job you like, plan how to get it, prepare for it, and persist."