Katherine Johnson is an African-American mathematician whose work as a “computer” at NASA resulted in the first U.S. manned space flights. “Computers” were women who performed calculations by hand with pencil and graph paper. This often took more than a week to complete and filled numerous notebooks with data and formulas. In 1962, Johnson did calculations for a flight research team plotting the flights of John Glenn’s orbital flight. Her knowledge of analytic geometry and use of Euler’s Method helped launch Glenn into orbit, turning the tides in the U.S. vs. Soviet Union competition. She defied racial and gender barriers, earning the respect of her male teammates. Her assertiveness is inspirational and in becoming a black belt I hope to gain a fraction of the confidence that she has.


Lin-Manuel Miranda is a play-writer, actor, lyricist, and singer. He wrote the Broadway musical Hamilton which has won many awards and raised money for the arts. He is supporting the relief efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria by bringing Hamilton to San Juan, January 10 – 16. Performing to raise funds and awareness on his birthday. Tickets for the shows range from $10 - $5000 and he has held numerous giveaways, ensuring that anyone who wants to can go. He is one of my living heroes because he uses what he has earned to ensure those in need aren’t forgotten or overlooked just because their problems are out of our sight.


My mom is the most amazing person I know. She’s always supportive and kind, not only to me but to everyone she meets. She encourages me to do my best and I always strive to make her proud. She’s generous and As I’ve gotten older, I realize how much she does for me and I’m so thankful. I love her for always being patient with me and gently pointing out my mistakes. I’ve learned so much about caring for others and always trying to be a good person in general.

Greta Thunberg is a 15 year old climate change activist who had made the headlines by spending her school days protesting. She sat outside the Riksdag (the supreme decision-making body of Sweden) from late August until September 9 every day during school hours with the sign Skolstrejk för klimatet (school strike for the climate). Her demands were that the Swedish government reduce carbon emissions as per the Paris Agreement. After the September elections, she continued to strike only on Fridays, which gained worldwide attention. She inspired school students across the globe to take part in the strikes. More than 20,000 students have held strikes in at least 270 cities in countries around the world. In Australia, thousands of students were inspired to strike, ignoring Prime Minister Morrison's comments of "more learning in schools and less activism". This is important for my generation to hear because we know that we can make a difference. It’s just more of us need to act on it, calling attention to important issues that aren’t going to be solved by solutions we came up with decades ago.


J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter which has sold over 500 million worldwide, becoming the best-selling book series in history. Aside from Harry potter, she has written 5 adult books under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. She used a fake name so that the crime books she wrote would be judged on their own merit, and not from her previous successes. However, when she wrote Harry Potter, she only provided her last name because since her target audience was boys, she didn’t think they would read the books if they saw they were by a woman. I find it inspiring that after she became a billionaire author, she didn’t hide her name to conform to her audience. She withheld it so her writing could be judged fairly. She has earned her success through perseverance and dedication, she rose even higher with her talent, not her reputation.


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