Name: DeLeon L. Gray, Ph.D.
One Word That Describes You: Conversable
DeLeon Gray is not what we imagine a traditional professor should look like. At the age of 30, 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 a few reputable universities—from North Carolina State University to Ohio State University—and he credits his love of research for helping him discover that teaching and youth outreach was 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” critique, Gray not only conducts research in his area of discipline but also develops 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 laurels, Gray wasted no time impacting the culture on campus at NC State and within 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 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 in Durham, North Carolina, and now The SMART Collaborative is gearing up to enter the second phase.
As a highly credentialed mentor, award winner, 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.”
BlackEnterprise.com understands the importance of education and is excited to see a 27-year-old BE Modern Man equipping students with the tools they need to succeed. Professor Gray has showcased the strength, resiliency, fortitude, and commitment to excellence that we can all learn from.
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