Last Monday, we were all inspired by Dr. Whitney Ingram’s speech. “What if I were to tell you that it’s possible to make an invisibility cloak [like Harry Potter’s]” she asked.
She may be the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Georgia, but Dr. Ingram was never identified as gifted. She tells us about her journey, what inspired her and how she got to where she is today. You can see the entire video and transcript here.
Dr. Ingram was born in Stone Mountain from “humble beginnings”. 2 months premature and weighing in at only 1 pound and 12 and a half ounces, doctors were concerned that she would have mental disabilities saying, “I was slow to walk and talk. By the time I got to first grade, I was evaluated for special education.”
Her parents were frequent flyers at School Box where they supplemented her education hoping to help keep her up to speed with her classmates. She recalled,
“I did at least one page [every day from] those workbooks. Overtime I began to learn at home as well as at school. That study habit took me to middle school and high school and then to college. So, learning to study was something I learned at a young age. By the time I hit third and fourth grade, I began to excel.
By the time I hit third and fourth grade, I began to excel. My second inspiration is doing something that you are passionate about. I used to check out books from the library. One book in particular that I loved was 101 science projects for kids.that sucks because you could do cool things. You can make a merry-go-round out of pipe cleaners or you can make paintings out of oil.
I’m not thinking this is a cool scientific endeavor. I’m thinking this is fun. If I can make a merry-go-round, I can play with this with my Barbie dolls.”
Dr. Whitney graduated from Stephenson high school and is thankful for the education and inspiration she received here. While she received her share of negative comments along her journey, she said,
I would like to encourage any student who was interested in pursuing something, to go ahead and go after it. You’re going to be judged even if you can’t identify with me as a black female. You’re going to be judged by the way you look, by the way you act, if you’re tall, short, fat … it doesn’t matter. Your work will speak for itself.
Wow Stan. Parental involvement and learning to study at a young age. Seems like a pretty simple formula. I hope her story resonates with students of all abilities and their parents as well. It would be nice if we did not get so wrapped up in how students score especially in the early grades.