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Amber Johnson is officially a Purdue University computer science Ph.D. graduate

The first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science at Purdue has officially graduated on Saturday. But the history-making doesn't stop there.

Posted: Aug 3, 2019 6:23 PM
Updated: Aug 4, 2019 1:19 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer science at Purdue has officially graduated on Saturday. But the history-making doesn't stop there.

Amber Johnson was hooded by the first African-American woman to earn a computer science Ph.D. from Harvard at graduation. Johnson got permission to make this happen.

Dr. Raquel Hill has been Johnson's mentor for the past two years. She received her doctorate's degree in 2002.

Johnson said walking across the stage was a unique experience.

“When I walked on stage I kinda felt like I was standing in the shoes of Dr. Raquel Hill,” said Johnson. “I felt like there were these thousands of shoes standing in front of me that I was walking in.”

Dr. Hill said being a part of making history goes beyond the title.

“It's not just for us, it is for others,” said Hill. “It's for others to actually see us and understand what they are able also to accomplish.”

Johnson said her degree belongs to every person who has gotten her to this point.

“It belongs to every single person that prayed, that baked me cookies, sent me I was thinking of you text messages, proofread my dissertation,” said Johnson.

Dr. Hill is proud of Johnson's hard work over the years.

“Every Ph.D. process has its challenges and she has persevered,” said Hill. “My mom has always said that there's a blessing in pressing and she has pressed towards the mark of the high calling.”

Both women are heading to a new job opportunity. Johnson will be moving to Maryland to work as a software engineer for Northrop Grumman. Dr. Hill is heading to Atlanta to become the Chair of Computer and Information Sciences at Spelman College. Hill served as an associate professor in Computer Science at Indiana University.

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