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Philip Alexander

physicist, educator, and academic administrator, was born in Pocahontas, Virginia, the son of Harry P. Branson, a coal miner, and Gertrude Brown. In 1928, after several years at his local elementary school, Herman enrolled at Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C., one of the nation's preeminent black secondary schools. He was encouraged in this move by a young black physician, William Henry Welch, who practiced in Pocahontas and who rented lodgings from young Branson's grandmother.

At Dunbar, Branson was introduced to studies in Latin, advanced mathematics, and other disciplines to which he would not have been exposed in his local high school. After graduating as valedictorian in 1932 he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh with a view to studying medicine partly because his great uncle had been trained as a physician there Branson completed the premedical program in two years and still found time ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

physicist, chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and educator was born in Washington, D.C., the second of four children to George Jackson, a post office employee, and Beatrice Cosby, a social worker. In elementary school Shirley was bused from the Jacksons' largely white neighborhood in northwest Washington to a black school across town. After the 1954Brown v. Board of Education desegregation ruling and several years of “white flight” transformed the area into a predominantly black neighborhood, she attended the local Roosevelt High School, where she participated in an accelerated program in math and science. Jackson took college-level classes in her senior year, after completing the high school curriculum early, and she graduated as valedictorian in 1964 As I was growing up she recalled I became fascinated with the notion that the physical world around me was a world of secrets and that science as ...

Article

Robert Fay

Shirley Jackson grew up in Washington, D.C., where her parents, Beatrice and George Jackson, encouraged her interest in science by helping her to prepare school science projects. After graduating first in her class at Roosevelt High School, Jackson was one of only thirty women to enter the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1964. She earned a B.S. degree in 1968 and a Ph.D. in 1973 from MIT, making her the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics and the first black woman to earn a doctorate in any subject from MIT.

After graduating from MIT, Jackson joined the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, as a research associate (1973–1974, 1975–1976), and was a visiting scientist at the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland (1974–1975). From 1976 to 1991 Jackson researched theoretical physics ...

Article

Sowande' Mustakeem

At the young age of twenty-six, Shirley Ann Jackson became not only the first African American woman to receive a PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), but also one of the first two women to receive a degree in theoretical physics from any university in the United States. In 1995, Jackson became both the first African American and first woman appointed to head the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees nuclear power plants in the United States. Additionally, in 1999, Jackson became the first African American president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York, the oldest university in the United States dedicated to research in science and engineering.

The second daughter of George and Beatrice Jackson, Jackson was born in Washington, DC She benefited greatly from the strong foundation her parents provided Her mother Beatrice a social worker regularly read to her often choosing the ...

Article

Daniel Donaghy

American physicist and president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Shirley Ann Jackson was born in Washington, D.C., to Beatrice and George Jackson, who instilled in her, as well as in her sister, Alicia, a strong interest in school, especially the study of science. Her parents encouraged Jackson to think for herself from an early age. As a result, she excelled academically throughout elementary and middle school and at Roosevelt High School, where she participated in accelerated math and science programs and from which she graduated in 1964 as valedictorian. She moved on that fall to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was one of the few African American students and the only one pursuing a career in theoretical physics. She graduated in 1968 after completing her senior thesis on solid state physics and was accepted into many of the nation s most prestigious graduate programs ...

Article

Stephen Truhon

educator and university president, was born in Terre Haute, Indiana, the only child of David W. and Josephine Miller Jenkins, the former a civil engineer. He attended Booker T. Washington elementary school, which was segregated, and graduated in 1917. He then attended Wiley High School, an integrated school, where he became captain of the track team. He then went to Howard University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1925.

Jenkins returned to Terre Haute to work with his father in highway contracting. Lack of success led him to take classes at Indiana State Normal School (now Indiana State University). In 1927 he married Elizabeth Lacy. With her encouragement he completed his bachelor's degree in education at Indiana State in 1931.

Jenkins was hired to teach at Virginia State College from 1931 to 1933 Convinced that his career lay in education ...

Article

Robert M. Dixon

physicist, science and engineering administrator, and college president, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, the first of two sons born to Almar C. Massey, a manual laborer for the Hercules Chemical Company, and Essie Nelson, an elementary school teacher and principal. Massey received support and encouragement not only from his parents but also from a cadre of excellent African American teachers, who, as a resolt of restricted employment opportunities in rigidly segregated Mississippi, pursued teaching with passion and dedication. Massey attended the Sixteenth Section Elementary School in Hattiesburg, where his mother taught, and the Royal Street High School in the same city. He excelled in school and entered Atlanta's Morehouse College on a Ford Foundation scholarship after completing the tenth grade. As a student at Morehouse, Massey, like Martin Luther King Jr. and other African American men who attended the college between 1940 and 1967 ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Cameroonian academic and politician, was born on 26 June 1943 in Buea, a town on the southwestern side of Mount Cameroon that was then under British control. Her father was a postal worker who had married four wives. Njeuma’s mother was a teacher who impressed upon her daughter the importance of education. She had ten brothers and sisters. Since there were no secondary schools for girls in her home region, Njeuma moved to Nigeria to study. She graduated from the Queen’s School in Enugu, Nigeria. Fortunately for Njeuma, she won a scholarship to study at Pembroke College in the United States in 1962, which later merged with Brown University. She excelled at tennis, and became the captain of the Pembroke tennis team in 1965 After Njeuma graduated she continued to follow her tennis career and played on the Cameroonian national women s tennis team in the 1970s However ...

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Donna Tyler Hollie

educator, was born in Washington, D.C., the youngest of six children of William Ross Patterson and Mamie Brooks Patterson, educators. Like countless other African Americans, the couple had migrated North in search of an improved educational, cultural, social, and racial climate for their children. Patterson's birthplace was within three blocks of the home of Frederick Douglass, for whom he was named. Patterson was only two when his parents died of tuberculosis. In a detailed will, each child was assigned to a relative or family friend. Although the will stipulated that Patterson was to be raised by “Aunt” Julia Dorsey, he was moved several times and ultimately his oldest sister, Wilhemina assumed responsibility for him From her meager earnings as a schoolteacher she financed his tuition and room and board at the elementary school operated by what is now Huston Tillotson College in Austin Texas In ...

Article

Ann Zeidman-Karpinski

mathematician and university president, was born Dolores Margaret Richard in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Lawrence Granville Richard, a worker in the chemical division of the Exxon refinery, and Margaret Patterson. Spikes attributed her academic success to her father's love of reading and her parents' insistence that she and her sisters attend college. Her father attended primary school and got his general equivalency diploma (GED) after his children graduated from college. Her mother had a little more formal schooling, having completed tenth grade. Spikes attended Southern University in Baton Rouge on a scholarship and graduated in 1957 summa cum laude with a bachelor of science. The following year she attended the University of Illinois at Urbana on a fellowship and earned a master's degree in 1958. Just weeks after graduating she married Herman Spikes a fellow mathematician and a classmate from Southern University They had ...

Article

Yolanda L. Watson Spiva

educator, Africanist, and anthropologist, was born Gloria Albertha Marshall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; nothing is known of her parents. She attended Dillard Elementary School and Dillard High School. A student of high academic prowess and promise, she skipped grade levels because of her exceptional ability and mastery of her school work and was classified as a high school junior at the age of fourteen. At fifteen she was offered and accepted early admission to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on a Ford Foundation Early Entrant Scholarship. In 1955, while a student at Fisk, Gloria attended Oberlin College as part of an academic exchange program and was exposed to an educational setting that she perceived to be a better fit for her academic interests. Consequently she transferred from Fisk to Oberlin to complete her undergraduate degree.

Sudarkasa received her bachelor s degree in Anthropology and English ...

Article

Linda T. Wynn

a physician, minister, educator, university president, and business executive who had a distinguished career of service in many areas during his lifetime. Townsend was born in Winchester, Tennessee, to the Reverend Doc Anderson and Emma A. (Singleton) Townsend, both of whom were educators. The elder Townsend was not only a minister but also a principal and director of the Franklin County Negro Elementary Schools. Townsend's mother was a schoolteacher in Shelbyville, Tennessee. Townsend was reared in Winchester and received his formal education there; in 1891, however, he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, and enrolled at Roger Williams University. During his student days in Nashville, Townsend became active in church affairs: he served as organist in several Nashville churches, conducted Sunday school classes, and organized missions to hospitals and jails. Later, he joined the Spruce Street Baptist Church, where he met his future wife, Willa ...

Article

David Rego

psychologist, educator, government official, and university president, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest son of William and Margaret Evelyn (Ferguson) Wright. Howard Emery Wright was among the first African Americans to receive a doctorate in psychology. His research interests were social psychology and attitudinal testing.

Wright attended elementary school in Washington, DC, where his father worked as a hotel waiter and his mother as a cook in a private home. In Washington Wright and his parents lived with his maternal grandparents Robert Ferguson, an insurance salesman, and Eleanor Ferguson, a laundry worker. Following the birth of Wright's sister Lydia, the family moved to Atlantic City, New Jersey, where his father worked as a railroad watchman. The Wrights purchased a home in Atlantic City, supplementing their income by taking in boarders.

Following graduation from Atlantic City High School, Wright enrolled at Pennsylvania's Lincoln University in 1929 ...