1st Edition

Soft Power for the Journey The Life of a STEM Trailblazer

By Sandra K. Johnson Copyright 2024
    324 Pages
    by CRC Press

    324 Pages
    by CRC Press

    This is a story of an African American woman working at the highest levels in STEM. Dr. Sandra K. Johnson earned a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from Rice University, Houston, Texas, in May 1988, the first Black woman to do so. She then became a successful global technology leader and an IBM Chief Technology Officer (CTO). The story narrates the inextricable human dimension of dealing with various personal and familial challenges that people naturally encounter—with the highs and lows, and exhilarations and disappointments. It portrays her inner strength, persistence, dedication, boldness, quiet resilience, wisdom and strong faith, this soft power she leverages throughout her life. It is a heartwarming, compelling story designed to encourage, be aspirational and awe-inspiring, and uplift the spirits of a broad and diverse readership.

    From tragically losing her father at the age of two, to being raised by a single mother of four children, Sandra showed promise in math and science, and discipline and unrelenting drive at a young age. Raised in the deep South, she exhibited leadership even while in kindergarten and blazed trails in leadership while in junior high and high schools. Her early education was in segregated schools, with integration coming to her hometown as she started the 5th grade. Dr. Johnson’s innate abilities led her to a summer engineering program for high school students, then on to college and graduate school.

    Dr. Johnson has made innovative contributions in high performance computing – supercomputers – and other areas of computer engineering. She has dozens of technical publications, over 45 pending and issued patents, and a plethora of recognition and honors in her field. The book is a fascinating and intriguing story that conveys in captivating and relatable ways the remarkable life arc of a resilient person from an underprivileged background who persistently overcomes whatever odds and challenges are encountered in her life. It is a riveting human tale of a triumphant spirit, moving forward with soft power to celebrate achievement and handle obstacles with steel willpower, influential support, and faith.

    Access the authors' webpage here https://softpowerforthejourney.com/


    Part 1. The Early Years
    1. The Beginning
    2. Junior High School
    3. High School
    Part 2. The College Years
    4. Early College
    5. The Upperclassman
    Part 3. Graduate School
    6. Stanford University
    7. Rice University
    Part 4. Blazing the Trail
    8. A New Life in Westchester
    9. Moving on Up
    10. Rough Waters Ahead
    Part 5. The Awakening
    11. I Didn’t Know That
    12. California and Texas
    13. More Enlightenment—Why Are You Not a DE?
    Part 6. The Move
    14. Technology in Africa?
    15. The Middle East and Africa
    16. What’s Next?
    Part 7. Amazing Opportunities
    17. Entrepreneurship
    18. Ups and Downs
    Part 8. Keep Rising
    19. New Opportunities
    20. A New Life


    Sandra K. Johnson’s 26-year career at IBM included roles as Chief Technology Officer, Research Staff Member, WebSphere Database Development Manager, and Linux Performance Architect and Manager. Dr. Johnson was a member of the IBM Academy of Technology, an IBM Master Inventor with more than 45 pending and issued patents, author of over 80 technical publications and books, and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. She is the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering.

    From the Foreword:

    “…this is a unique story of a woman’s journey from a fatherless child at the age of two, to a precocious child and a trailblazing student in her formative years through college, to a successful STEM professional and global technology leader, to a blissful life as a wife, mother, and grandmother. She is now on the precipice of her purpose and destiny. Having been there from her years in advanced education, I have watched her blossom into a remarkable force to be reckoned with.

    I strongly recommend anyone interested in pursuing a career in STEM, and/or anyone who needs inspiration or encouragement when faced with what may seem like insurmountable obstacles, to read her story. It will be medicinal for your spirit as you aspire to live on purpose in this life!"

    Fayѐ A. Briggs, Ph.D.

    Founder & CEO, Afristec International, Inc. & Niminq, Inc.

    Intel Fellow Emeritus


    “For anyone who harbors self-doubt possibly triggered by “imposter syndrome” or by being a “first and only” (what some describe as “Jackie Robinson syndrome”), this book can be directly and compassionately relatable and helpful to them.  For anyone from the broader community and readership who may wish to understand better and more intimately what persons who experience either or both of the two aforementioned syndromes might at times face and have to deal with in their lives and careers, the book can effectively speak directly and informatively to them as well.  And for all who aspire to attain success at the highest levels to fulfill their innate potential for accomplishment and achievement, no matter their past or current economic and/or social status, this book can motivate and be a north star for them in striving for and reaching their goals.”

     Timothy M. Pinkston, Ph.D.

     Professor and Vice Dean, USC Viterbi School of Engineering

    University of Southern California


    “This book is an inspiring tale of how to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.”

    Calvin Lawrence 

    IBM CTO and author of bestselling book, Hidden in White Sight:  How AI Empowers and Deepens Systemic Racism