Anngienetta Johnson, DSc (BA '71)
Anngienetta Johnson’s love for math started with a simple grade school feeling of being good at it. While studying mathematics at Texas Woman’s, Johnson suddenly found herself nominated by the head of the department for a co-op program with NASA. Little did she know this opportunity would lead to a lifelong career with NASA.
“When I look at my life, everything I’ve done, everything I’ve accomplished, leads back to that opportunity,” says Johnson. “I co-oped every other semester with NASA, taking classes on alternating semesters.”
In an effort to increase women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), NASA approached Texas Woman’s searching for female students to join their co-op program. The program allowed Johnson to intern with NASA while taking up to 21 hours of classes every other semester throughout her time at TWU.
After graduation, Johnson was hired at NASA full time in data processing and later moved into flight missions operations. Johnson worked on mission planning and operations for select payloads as a payload officer and engineer in the Shuttle era, experiment data engineer on the Apollo Soyuz Test Project and medical data engineer in the Skylab era.
When I look at my life, everything I’ve done, everything I’ve accomplished, leads back to that opportunity. I co-oped every other semester with NASA, taking classes on alternating semesters.
Johnson went on to hold a variety of positions for NASA, including managing payloads in the Mission Operations Control Center at Johnson Spaceflight Center in Houston, managing development of Earth-orbiting spacecraft and overseeing NASA’s institutional and informational assets in Washington, D.C.
Johnson says the biggest challenge throughout her long and accomplished career was isolation.
“Being the only female minority in an environment, I was always proving myself,” she says, “You tend to over-prepare for everything, overburden.”
Despite the challenge, Johnson says everything was worth it when looking back at her biggest accomplishments and the lessons she’s learned.
After my graduation ceremony, a woman in my church said ‘When I see you up there, I know I can do it, I’m going back to college.’
“Other people in my hometown of Wichita Falls started to see what was possible, and started expanding into their own areas of success,” says Johnson. “After my graduation ceremony, a woman in my church said ‘When I see you up there, I know I can do it, I’m going back to college.’”
Now retired from NASA, Johnson is a senior volunteer with the American Red Cross. Today, she is in California taking care of those displaced by the recent fires.
Johnson also serves as a member of the TWU Alumni Board and is a recipient of the Chancellor Alumni Excellence Award.
Being the only female minority in an environment, I was always proving myself. You tend to over-prepare for everything, overburden.
Page last updated 9:00 AM, October 25, 2021