100 Features

BE Modern Man: Meet “The Professor” Dr. DeLeon Gray

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Name: DeLeon L. Gray, Ph. D.

Profession: Professor

Age: 30

One Word That Describes You: Conversable

At age of 30, DeLeon Gray—a first-generation college student—has found a way to his dream profession in a short period of time. Poised to motivate and inspire students, Gray is the “leader of the new school” at North Carolina State University.

Gray’s educational career spans several reputable universities—from North Carolina State University to The Ohio State University, and he credits his love of research in helping him to discover that teaching and youth outreach is his calling. “Professors are often stereotyped as being thinkers who are detached from reality and live in an ivory tower,” says Gray. To avoid the “ivory tower” label, Gray not only conducts research in his area of discipline, he also researches his own teachings and outreach efforts. “This allows me to draw on my strengths and use my time more efficiently. By doing so, I am able to avoid the “ivory tower” critique while addressing the responsibility I have to continually invest in my African American community.”

Not one to rest on his achievements, Gray took no time in impacting the culture on campus at NC State, and the surrounding communities. He created the SMART Collaborative to unite educators and researchers who are passionate about confronting educational challenges rooted in student motivation. SMART Collaborative members are active scholars—establishing science and technology after-school clubs in high-poverty middle schools in rural North Carolina, taking lead roles on projects designed to inform North Carolina’s transition to Digital-Age Learning Models; and facilitating workshops in which teachers interpret motivation data from their own students and generate theory-driven strategies for fostering their passion for mathematics.

“The SMART Collaborative is working to revolutionize the way society thinks of urban adolescents,” says Gray. “The iScholar is an individual who possesses in-depth knowledge about the use of the scientific method to tackle interdisciplinary research questions. iScholars will enter college groomed to embrace lead roles in designing, proctoring, analyzing, and or presenting research.”

NC State and the College of Education have been instrumental in supporting this innovation during its first phase. Successful contributions have been made to the student research culture at Hillside High School (Durham, North Carolina), and now The SMART Collaborative is gearing up to enter the second phase of this project.

As a highly credentialed mentor, award-winning, and outstanding faculty member within the American educational system, Gray believes that success should not be a secret. “Adolescents from our community need to know what’s possible for them. They also deserve to be provided with actionable steps so that they may become a 27-year-old professor—or something greater.”

The Black Enterprise Team understands the importance of education and is excited to see a BE Modern Man equipping students with the tools needed to succeed. Gray has showcased the strength, resiliency, fortitude, and a commitment to excellence that we can all learn from.

It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow and join the BE Modern Man conversation with #BEModernMan and @blackenterprise.





  1. Tonya Ridley

    May 26, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I love helping at risk youth and would love learn more as I am developing my business to cater to this population as well in the District of Columbia

  2. Dr. S. Jackson

    May 27, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Congratulations Dr. Gray! What an awesome project! I wish you much success! Keep up the good work! (Dr. S. Jackson from the real HU!)

  3. Dr. N Johnson Ruffin

    May 27, 2015 at 3:08 pm

    Kudos! to you Dr. Gray! Our spirited discussions about topics of the day; as well as, your passionate interests in cognitive expression, education, and eradicating societal youth risks in the future, have propelled you to greater recognition through BE. Well deserved Honor for the Up and Coming Young Black Male Professor and meaningful Researcher.. BE has placed you and your Collaborative among those endeavors to watch and become engaged . Positive youth development and tools for life and education pursuits provide meaningful pathways toward the Successful Modern Black Man .i would like to know more about the SMART Collaborative and how I may contribute.

  4. Pingback: UMBC’s Modern Men | News and Stories for UMBC Alumni

  5. Giovanni

    June 21, 2015 at 12:47 am

    Dr. Gray is a really great professor. He genuinely enjoys what he teaches and is enthusiasm is felt by his students. It’s nice to read an article like this about such a great guy!

  6. Dr. W. Logan

    June 21, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    As the principal of Hillside High School, I, too, am an indirect beneficiary of Dr. Gray’s work with our students. He is clearly an intelligent thinker who aims to put into action his theories about how to help students to achieve at higher levels. I remain excited about working with this agent for change in the months to come.

  7. Professor Patricia L. Marshall

    October 2, 2015 at 10:52 am

    It’s great to see Dr. Gray featured in this issue of Modern Man. My office is located just down the hall from his at NC State University and I can say it’s an absolute pleasure to have him as a colleague. Dr. Gray is one of the most impressive young scholars I know. He is highly motivated and disciplined. By all accounts, he seems to have a laser sharp vision for what he wants to do with young people in the African American community through his research and work in schools. On top of all this, he’s thoughtful and just an incredibly nice guy! Congratulations Dr. Gray! As I’ve said to you many times, very big things are in your future, and I’m very glad to know you!

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