Connecting from Generation to Generation:
Testimonies of Perseverance
Thank you to Dr. Jacqueline Brannon Giles, who contributed this post.
Those who love to study often find themselves alone, with their subject, paper, pen or computer. In order to reach excellence, you sometimes have to separate yourself from others and focus on the content of your subject matter, especially if the subject is science, technology, engineering and technology. These areas are called STEM professions and the percentage of African American men and women still is a concern at the national level because many students fail to persist and to navigate their way to advanced degrees in the STEM professions.
For years, Dr. Della Bell has been instrumental in encouraging women and minorities in STEM, especially in mathematics. She is a longtime member of NAM, NCTM and MAA. She recently lost her husband Albert and they were married 46 years. Her daughter is a medical doctor and her son is an engineer with an MBA in finance from Duke University.
Dr. Della Bell and I have been having luncheon meetings for several months, and now we have decided to include a few other young scholars to interview us and to engage in honest conversations about our journey as educators and mathematicians. Our first mentee is Seneca Dunmore, a doctoral student in Educational Administration at Texas Southern University. Seneca is a scholar, and she has traveled all over the world serving others and honing her skills in administration, communications and motivational speaking. Seneca’s bachelors degree was earned at Tuskegee where she majored in Biology. The picture above has Seneca on the left, Dr. Bell in the middle and Dr. Giles on the right.
If you hear Seneca’s testimony you hear a young woman who is determined to achieve excellence and to contribute to society. She has overcome many obstacles, including medical and social challenges. I was so inspired by her testimony that I encouraged her to meet Dr. Della Bell, who, too, is a scholarly, determined and a powerful professional who has been blessed with a balanced life, including a marriage of 46 years.
The goal of our meeting was to connect with the next generation of scholars and to share how connectivity and collaboration enhance and accelerate the achievement of great goals.
During our meeting we discussed our collaboration to implement a Calculus Reform project co-administered by West Point (United States Military Academy). An opportunity to express gratitude and to share intricate details of how we negotiated the powerful project was illuminating to the young scholar.
We left the meeting with a sense of accomplishment. We decided to have sessions like the one we had on December 12, 2015, at IHOP, in order to impart the knowledge and inspiration that may help to accelerate the achievements of the next generation. The Hebrew phrase “l dor v dor” means from generation to generation. Indeed, connecting from generation to generation can help to encourage perseverance to achieve heights that are farther advanced than the previous generation.
I believe this approach will be foundational, dense and connected to help promote and support the aspiring scholars of the future.