President Barack Obama presents Katherine G. Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the 2015 Presidential Medal Of Freedom Ceremony at the White House on November 24, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Kris Connor—WireImage
By TIME Staff
May 15, 2017

Katherine Johnson, the NASA pioneer whose story was told in the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures, delivered a message to Hampton University’s graduating class of 2017 on Sunday. See video of her remarks here and read the transcript below:

You’re graduating from a good university. Make it proud of you.

Each phase is different and better. Make the most of it. Enjoy what you see and what you do, and make the best of every opportunity.

Those words of wisdom stay the same. The first is: Always do your best for whatever you’re doing. Do your best. But enjoy it. Enjoy life. As it passes by you, don’t miss anything.

There’s always something else that hasn’t been found yet, so help them find it. Help people as much as you can because it’s no fun if you have, if you know a lot of stuff and they don’t know anything. So tell them. Help them out. And go as many places as you can to help as many persons as you can.

Make it worth their while and it’ll be worth your while all your life to know that you helped.

My parents always insisted that you do your best whatever you’re doing. If you’re being bad, be the baddest. But if you’re being good, it will show, and it will be helpful to more people to know that you helped them and they can help someone else. That’s life.

And as always, I tell the children, learn to like learning. Enjoy learning. What you know is much better used by all the people. And that’s the purpose of information — to be used by people, not to be written in a book to be read, but to be used, so that everybody who does read it will understand it. And you hope will use it usefully. Love learning at all times.

Whatever I’m doing, I do the best that I can, not the best that’s available, but the best that I can, so I can’t give you any more, you have to get something more from someone else. But at all times, at all times, I do my best. You will do better if you cause other people to want to learn and you will do it better, too, all the time. You want to learn, want to teach, want to help.

Oh, you’ve got it made graduating from Hampton. People already know that you knew a lot of information, and they will use it and use it well, because they know that you picked good information to pass along, and at all times you are trying to make small things important.

Contact us at


You May Like