Breaking barriers is nothing new for USC's acting chief : Austin's journey -- from Bronx projects to defense giants -- guides her next steps.
In the Bronx, Wanda Pompey occupied two worlds: the tenements and public housing projects where she lived and the white schools her mother pushed her to attend.
Teachers paid scant attention to her and the few other black students. But one day in seventh grade, her math teacher, Mr. Cohen, had the class do a difficult algebra problem.
When he handed back the papers, he said, loud enough for the class to hear, "Hey, you're good at math. Don't let anyone tell you you're not."