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Profiles of Inspiration

Profiles of InspirationScholars of Note. Emerging Scholars. Rising Stars. However we refer to what has become an annual edition, indeed a January tradition, it is one of the most anticipated issues for both Black Issues readers and staff.
It gives us an opportunity to bring to you some new names and faces in the academy, as well as their interesting and unique research. You may already be familiar with some of the scholars presented, and in some cases, these young scholars have already “emerged” and “risen.” Some are already tenured, others are even chair of their respective departments. But what they share in common is their passion for teaching and research. As you will read, some of the scholars spent time in the private sector before returning to academia. They eventually returned to the classroom because they found the academic life more rewarding, providing an atmosphere where they could explore their own ideas and research, a world where they could bounce ideas off of their students and colleagues, a place where they could really make a difference in not only their particular disciplines, but in the lives of their students as well.
When we embark on our search for emerging scholars, we never have a shortage of names from which to draw upon. Because we review so many impressive CVs, it’s easy to forget that the number of Blacks with doctorates, and the number receiving doctorates on a yearly basis, is actually very small. In 2000-2001, it was about 4 percent, a small figure, but at the same time, the highest among minority groups. However, of the approximately 1,600 doctorates earned by African Americans within that same timeframe, Black women earned about 60 percent of the doctorates with Black men earning close to 40 percent. That was the largest discrepancy in men and women earning doctorates among all of the minority groups. Indeed, there is more work to be done.
And although it may look like these scholars “have made it,” it has not been an easy road for many of them. Some were discouraged along the way — their research criticized or questioned. Most, if not all, of the scholars talk about a mentor or a support system. It is already well documented that being mentored — having someone take an interest in you and your professional development — is invaluable. Some of these scholars had older academics to guide them, to point them to the appropriate professional meetings they should attend, to provide them with reading lists, to validate their research. We should all be so fortunate.
We know you’ll be inspired by the profiles on the following pages. It’s still hard for us not to be, and we’ve been putting the emerging scholars edition together for the past three years. The sky is the limit for all of the scholars, and our hope is that they will remain in the academy for awhile, at least long enough to influence another English professor, another law professor, another engineering professor. Academia is not an easy place for scholars of color, but these academics are wonderful examples that with perseverance, determination, creativity and mentorship, you can rise to the top of your field.  Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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