One of NASA’s ‘Hidden Figures’ delivers inspiring speech at Norfolk State

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Oscar-nominated film “Hidden Figures” is creating a lot of buzz across the country, but especially in Hampton Roads. Thursday, one of those “Hidden Figures” stepped out from behind the scenes and onto the stage at Norfolk State University.

Dr. Christine Darden, of Hampton, is one of NASA’s “Hidden Figures.” She is not featured in the movie, but she is in in the book, which was what the movie was modeled after.

That’s because she came about two decades after the three NASA engineers featured in the movie.

Photos: Dr. Darden at NSU

“I was not in the movie because I came about 25 to 30 years after the other three, so I was cast more as standing on their shoulders,” said Dr. Darden. “I think it’s important that we inspire our young people and we tell them how important the STEM subjects are now, because more of our jobs in our country depend on STEM.”

Dr. Darden is a former NASA computer data analyst and former director at Langley Research Center. She spent about 25 years working in sonic boom — a major role in the space race of the 60s and 70s. Fast forward to today, students say they’re entering into the STEM field following in her footsteps.

NSU student Jasmine Mabrey says Dr. Darden inspired her to go into the field of engineering.

“It is nice to see an African-American woman engineer,” said Mabrey. “I’m in that major myself and to see someone persevere and work hard and be determined and be successful, that’s really an inspiration to females in general.”

Dr. Darden says she has watched the movie “Hidden Figures” eight times thus far, and she’s looking forward to seeing it again.

“Every time I see it, I notice and learn something new that I didn’t see before.”