Newport News, Virginia third grader, Na Kia Boykin recently scored a perfect score of 600 on her Mathematics Standards of Learning (SOL) test. Turns out, her love for math and science runs in her family as she is the great-granddaughter of pioneering NASA mathematician, Katherine Johnson.
SOL tests are state-wide comprehensive tests that many states require their public school students to take at the end of each school year. The tests are designed to assess grade level-specific student proficiencies in multiple subject areas. As a student at Palmer Elementary School, Na Kia was among 59 Newport News elementary school students to earn a perfect score this year on their math SOL. “I like math because I can look at a problem and figure it out,” Na Kia explained to the Daily Press newspaper after being honored at a school assembly on Wednesday, June 13. “You can just look at the problem and do it. You use the numbers, and you use your brain. It’s a good challenge.”
After the national attention that her family has received once “Hidden Figures” was released, Na Kia became personally inspired to carry on the legacy of her great- grandmother. Her father, Douglas Boykin, is the son of Katherine Johnson’s middle daughter. “I told her she would get a 500 at least, but I said, ‘Don’t be disappointed if you get a 585 or something,'” he said. “She came in the door the next day and said ‘What do you think I got?’ I said, ‘585.’ She said, ‘Higher than that.’ “Finally she said, ‘I got all of ‘em! I got a perfect 600!’ And I started screaming like it was the Super Bowl.”
After setting and achieving her goal to earn a perfect math score, she asked to be allowed to address the awards assembly crowd to express gratitude and acknowledge Katherine Johnson’s influence on her interests in math and science. Na Kia closed out her speech by saying:
“I would really like to give my great-grandmother Katherine Johnson a special thanks for inspiring me and a whole generation of young people to achieve our dreams. And by being a trailblazer and role model to all of us; thank you grandma.”
The young aspiring teacher is also class president and is known for being an active participant and helpful to others in the classroom. While Katherine Johnson (who will turn 100 in August) was not able to attend the awards ceremony, she continues to play a very active role in Na Kia’s extended family.
“Na Kia definitely looks up to her,” Douglas Boykin remarked. This summer, Na Kia is looking forward to participating in a science summer camp and visiting family in New Orleans.
Congratulations, Na Kia and keep up the great work!