(1) For people that don’t know you, who is Leroy Long III?
- “According to my social media accounts, I’m a husband, a youth ministry leader, a mentor, an engineering professor, blessed, artistic and determined lol. I try to learn something new and laugh each day. Overall, I’m trying to fulfill my God-given purpose in life and make a positive impact in other people’s lives.”
(2) What are some of the challenges you have experienced in your career as a University Professor and how have you overcome them?
- “I’m still in the early stages of my career but so far I’ve faced challenges such as being the only Black professor in my college and one of few in my field. Another challenge has been trying to find collaborators and funding for my research. To overcome these challenges, I’ve tried to find mentors who are professors, network at professional events, work strategically to make positive changes and be proactive but patient with my career goals.”
(3) At what age did you know this would be your career?
- “I never dreamed of being a college professor when I was growing up and even when I was an undergraduate engineering student. While getting my Master’s degree, I started to see my career as a potential path. I was in my mid twenties and well into my PhD program when I began to seriously consider becoming a college professor.”
(4) How much of your success has to deal with your faith and relationship with God?
- “Potentially, all of it. It definitely took faith to pursue my dreams. I also developed a close relationship with God in order to succeed despite academic challenges, fear, and institutional racism.”
- Proverbs 3:5 – 6 (5)Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; (6) in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight
(5) Do you feel there were any challenges going to a public high school?
- “Yes, systematic racism has a large negative impact on predominantly Black public K-12 schools like the ones I attended in terms of staffing, resources and academic success. Schools have become resegregated based on race and class. Curriculum isn’t always culturally relevant or taught by teachers who can identify with minorities. Local tax dollars support public schools so poor communities have schools with limited class offerings, books and technology. Lastly, poor kids can’t concentrate on learning if they are hungry and struggling to survive.”
(6) Is it important to have a mentor while in school (high school and beyond)?
- “Yes, it’s extremely important to try to connect with someone who looks like you, has similar cultural experiences and has accomplished what you want to achieve.”
(7) Was there anyone that helped you along the way to becoming a professor?
- “Yes, it took a village. My mother taught me the importance of working hard, valuing education and believing in myself. Other family, friends and classmates provided encouragement and support. I also had great teachers like Bonnie Porter, Kevin Fowlkes, Toni (Painter) Mims, and Desiree Nickell. Lastly, I had professors who inspired me to go into the profession such as Dr. Ruby Mawasha, Dr. Manoj Srinivasan, Dr. Terrell L. Strayhorn and Dr. James L. Moore III.”
(8) What advice would you give a student still in high school aspiring to enter into STEM/Engineering professions?
- “Have confidence in yourself, be resilient, seek help early and often, dream big, and learn about pioneers in the field who look like you. Try to take calculus, physics and chemistry in high school as well as a programming or drafting class. Join clubs that involve robotics or other STEM topics. Learn to create an app for smartphones. Volunteer in the community and try to get internship or co-op experience.”
(9) With the current state of America, how can we as African Americans help change the perception of acquiring a PhD? (In school for too long, unattainable goal, too expensive, etc.)
- “We have to understand the benefits of having a job that provides autonomy along with the opportunity to research topics of interest and help others. We need to use technology and books to gain inspiration from the experiences of African Americans who have obtained a PhD such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, W.E.B. DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, Michelle Alexander, Inez Beverly Prosser, Gloria Blackwell, etc.”
(10) Will the Cavs win it all this year? (Had to ask haha)
- “They will definitely make the Finals. If they are healthy and develop chemistry with the new roster I think they can win it all again. LeBron James is still the best player in the league and one of the greatest players ever so I wouldn’t recommend betting against him.”
Disclaimer: “My answers represent my personal opinions and they do not necessarily represent those of my employer.”