Dr. Christine Darden, an aerospace engineer and the first African American woman promoted to the U.S. government’s Senior Executive Service, says Scripture reminded her that with God, all things are possible.
In a recent CBN profile, Darden describes how her faith helped her pursue rigorous studies and a stellar 40-year career at NASA. Though not featured in the 2016 film “Hidden Figures,” about African American women whose computations launched Americans into space, Darden is known as the fourth Hidden Figure. On the lecture circuit, the mathematician and engineer continues to inspire young people with a message of curiosity, passion, perseverance, and faith.
Christine Darden Knew ‘God Can Help Me’
Darden, now 79, describes being curious from an early age. Instead of playing with a new doll, for example, she took it apart to see how it talked. Darden, who loved math as well as physical sciences, took six college math classes at the same time—and often was the only female in the classroom.
But thanks to Scripture, Darden knew that God was with her during her trail-breaking academic pursuits. “Things in the Bible helped me live the life and believe that God can help me do certain things and work with me in certain ways,” she says. “Well, how can I take six math courses?”
Darden explains that her dad urged her to obtain a teaching certificate, thinking she “wouldn’t get a job otherwise.” Interestingly, one of her college classmates in Virginia was the daughter of Katherine Johnson, who was already hurdling racial barriers at NASA.
Despite the space agency’s nearby location, Darden hadn’t really considered a space-related career. But when someone in the college career-placement office encouraged her to apply to NASA, she was soon hired as a data analyst.
After confronting the director about disparities in job tasks, Darden received a promotion to engineer. And after earning her doctorate, she specialized in sonic boom minimization and high-speed aerodynamics. Darden, who has published extensively, also played key roles in research and government consulting.
Christine Darden: Faith and Work Are Connected
Now retired, Christine Darden continues to inspire people through lectures—including at Christian schools. “Many [students] have come up and said they are so inspired by my career and the tough times that I went through,” she says. “Some have even said they were going home to do their homework now.” Darden advises students, “If it’s something you really like, you might have to work for it.”