NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus student mentoring and leadership programs, Women in Search of Excellence (WISE) and MAN UP attended a private screening of the film, “Hidden Figures” on February 15. The event was hosted by United States Senators Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Representative Bobby Scott at the United States Capitol.
Over 200 individuals from community groups, student and nonprofit organizations across the region were selected to view the three-time Academy Awards-nominated film in the Congressional Auditorium of the United States Capitol Visitor Center, alongside Margot Lee Shetterly, #1 New York Times bestselling author of “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race;” “Hidden Figures” Director and Screenwriter Theodore Melfi; 21st Century Fox Vice President of Government Relations Kathleen Ramsey and several other government officials. The event, Hidden Figures in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), engaged young men and women to explore a wide variety of economic opportunities in STEM careers.
A vast majority of student members from the WISE and MAN UP organizations at NOVA’s Woodbridge Campus are currently pursuing an associate’s degree in cybersecurity and/or information technology. WISE, an organization that empowers women through professional and academic enrichment, while improving self-esteem and self-advocacy, assists students with pursuing academic, personal and career goals. MAN UP, a mentoring and leadership development program for minority men, was developed in 2013 to increase retention, graduation rates and the academic performance of NOVA students. Richmond Hill, MAN UP founder, and program coordinator, said receiving an invitation to attend the private screening introduced a new and exciting experience for students.
“This was an opportunity for our students in the MAN UP and WISE programs to be a part of a time in history,” Hill said. “Our NOVA students were very excited to be in the same room as so many government officials and individuals who contributed to the film. This unique and fortunate experience has given each student a sense of pride to be a part of this amazing event. For some of them, this was their very first time attending a private screening and visiting the Capitol.”
“Hidden Figures” stars renowned actresses Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe played three African-American female mathematicians, Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson and Dorothy Vaughan. These women made immeasurable contributions in aeronautics and astronautics research at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Langley Research Center in the 1960s, while enduring racial segregation and gender discrimination in Hampton, Virginia.
“After viewing ‘Hidden Figures,’ I saw so many emotions from our WISE mentees – clapping, yelling, crying and laughing that left me inspired,” Tykesha R. Myrick, WISE founder, and program leader said. “The overarching theme we collectively have from this extraordinary film and unique experience is nothing is impossible, and someone has to be the first.”