Annie Easley, an African American mathematician, and computer scientist was born in April 1933 in Birmingham, Alabama.
Her entire childhood was spent dreaming of becoming a nurse, but once she attended high school, she slowly switched her interest to pharmacy.
After attending Xavier University in 1951, she married a man in the U.S. military and worked as an educator in Jefferson County. In between her time as an educator, she helped those in her community study for literacy tests so they could obtain the ability to vote. Despite the endless discrimination and disapproval from others, she persevered to help as many people as possible.
Soon enough, she unsuccessfully continued her degree in pharmacy, and in 1955 switched to an interest in the computer field. In Ohio, she worked as a “human computer” at the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory, which was transported to become the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA). As a result, she started up a new career as a computer scientist and mathematician for NASA. Easley continued this job for 34 years, and although she didn’t have the necessary credentials, she was able to successfully fulfill her position.
Over the next couple of years, Easley was on the front line of space research, and in the early 1960s, began working on nuclear-powered rocket systems. At this time, and after the successful launch in 1963, she learned computer programming languages such as the Formula Translating System (Fortran) and Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
Her work in NASA and the legacy she has left behind continue to inspire those in the STEM community today.