Have you had the opportunity to meet a legend? A game-changer? Someone who has helped pave the way for you in your career and in life?
I am beyond honored that I recently met and spent the evening with Dr. Christine Darden, one of the original Hidden Figures, as eloquently told in Margot Lee Shetterly’s book of the same name. Dr. Darden worked at NASA as one of the African-American women who served as human computers during the Space Race in the 1960s. Dr. Darden spoke at the North Carolina Museum of History as part of Lift Off NC: Apollo+Beyond, a yearlong celebration that marks 50 years since the first human stepped on the moon. The North Carolina native shared some of her experiences working as a mathematician, data analyst and aeronautical engineer at the space agency during a time when neither women nor people of color had the chance to do so.
As a female business owner in a male-dominated field, I wanted to show my support for Dr. Darden’s visit. HIRE Strategies was offered the opportunity to sponsor the event at the NC Museum of History and we immediately said yes! I brought two of my daughters so they could meet a trailblazer and hear what it takes to make your mark in history. There were several takeaways for me that I’d like to share with you that helped direct Dr. Darden’s route to success. We could all use this framework in our own professional pursuits:
Dr. Darden’s “P to the 4th Power Framework”
- P1 – Perceive – Perceive yourself in your ideal career
- P2 – Plan – Plan what you need to get there
- P3 – Prepare – Prepare and work your plan
- P4 – Persist – Persist! Keep going!
Dr. Darden discussed her path, her educational background, her love for math and the challenges she encountered during her career progression with NASA. What I found most eye-opening was that she never mentioned race nor the fact that she was female in a male-dominated field as challenges. However, I know there must have been things she dealt with. She “chose” to guide her path and determine her own destiny despite any racism or sexism that could have potentially deterred her career aspirations.
I could very much relate to this with my own career path. I also work in an industry void of people who look like me but I don’t let the fact that I’m a woman or African American deter me from my own aspirations and goals for the company. Anytime I am met with sexism or racism, I allow it to become my fuel, versus letting it hinder me. You can’t control how others view or perceive you, however, you are in control of your own reactions and emotions.
My daughter Bryanna also learned valuable lessons from Dr. Darden’s address. She remarked that patience can be a key part of her career strategy. She admits that she’s normally impatient but it’s important to stay focused and work hard to achieve your goals, even if you feel you aren’t being recognized. And, another big lesson, never take no for an answer when you are driven and passionate about something.
I’m grateful to be able to stand on the shoulders of women like Dr. Christine Darden. And to have met her and take some awesome photos with this legend really punctuates how vital it is to celebrate people’s achievements and their positive impact on the rest of us.
Congratulations, Dr. Darden, and thank you for your determination, hard work and influence on so many of us.
President & CEO