Black History: the Story of Annie Jean Easley

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'You're never too old, and if you want to, as my mother said, you can do anything you want to, but you have to work at it', true words were spoken by Annie Jean Easley, an American computer scientist. Born on April 23, 1933, in Birmingham, Alabama, Easley was the daughter of Samuel Bird Easley and Mary Melvina Hoover. She died at the age of 78 on June 25, 2011, due to natural causes. Annie Easley lived with her older brother and both were raised by their single mother, Mary. As a child, Easley's mother had always told her that if she worked hard, she could become anything she wanted. However, Easley thought that nursing and teaching were the only careers open for black women and she wasn't very interested in teaching. Easley wanted to have many careers as a child, such as being a nurse and a pharmacist.

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Annie Easley moved to New Orleans after high school to attend Xavier University. She got married a few years into her education and both decided to move to Cleveland after marriage. Easley took a few courses at Cleveland University while working full-time. In 1977, Easley was committed to complete her education by taking unpaid three-month leave from her work to complete her Bachelor's degree in Science in Mathematics. In the olden days, schools were racially isolated, with blacks and whites attending different schools. Fortunately, Easley overcame those boundaries. She obtained top marks and was the valedictorian of her graduating class, which earned her a spot at Xavier University.

After high school, Easley went to Xavier University in New Orleans, and then an African-American Roman Catholic University, where she majored in pharmacy for about two years. Easley continued her education while working for the agency and in 1977 she obtained a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from Cleveland State University. Annie Easley’s 34-year career included work with the Centaur project which helped as technological foundations for the space shuttle launches and launches of communication, military and weather satellites.

There are a few interesting facts about Annie Easley. To begin with, she was raised by her single mother who repeatedly told her she can do anything she wanted as long as she worked hard at it. Easley also worked at NASA before it was NASA. In 1955, she started her career there; it was called the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, or NACA. Furthermore, Easley started studying pharmacy at Xavier University in New Orleans but dropped out to get married and moved to Cleveland. Then, an article in a Cleveland newspaper about sisters who worked as 'human computers' at NACA caught Easley's attention, she applied there. Annie Easley was a founding member and one-term president of the NASA Lewis Ski Club, even though she didn't start skiing until the age of 46. Easley skied in Colorado, Canada, and Europe.

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