Nearly two dozen local teens were invited to join Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner at a private screening of “Hidden Figures” on Capitol Hill. Mentors and teens from the Bailey’s, Reston, Gum Springs and Southgate Community Centers joined more than 250 students from around Northern Virginia for a once-in-a-lifetime experience to encourage a new generation of local thinkers to continue to shoot for the stars.
“Hidden Figures” tells the inspiring story of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson—three pioneering African American NASA mathematicians and their role in one of the most historic NASA missions which sent John Glenn into space as the first American to orbit the Earth.
Students received a very special treat in being able to meet the author of “Hidden Figures,” Margo Lee Shetterly and the director of the film, Theodore Melfi. The screening was also attended by the family of Ms. Katherine Johnson one of the film’s principle characters. The evening’s VIPs shared a strong and encouraging message on the importance of STEM today and, particularly, the obstacles the movie’s female STEM professionals overcame in the 1960’s. Despite the star-studded guest list, it was clear that the night’s focus was on the rising generation and their opportunity to take STEM to new heights.
“The true stars at the ‘Hidden Figures’ screening are these Northern Virginia students pursuing futures in STEM,” said Senator Warner.
The evening’s festivities were representative of Fairfax County’s commitment to providing STEM opportunities for youth (recently outlined in A Snapshot of STEM Opportunities for Youth), and would not have been possible without the county’s partnership with Northern Virginia’s SySTEMic Solutions and the generous support of Reston Limousine for providing transportation.
“Preparing a STEM workforce to meet high-demand, high growth employment in STEM fields is a priority of the Fairfax County Economic Success Strategic Plan,” said Chris Leonard, Director of Fairfax County Neighborhood and Community Services. “There is no way that we could provide evenings like this, as well as so many other experiences, through our Clubhouse Network and Computer Learning Centers without the support of our community partners and the Fairfax County Office of Public Private Partnerships.”