Pledge and Inspiration by Dr. Whitney Ingram
3/20/2017 – Work/Business
Stan Jester (Board of Education)
It’s my honor to be standing here with Dr. Whitney Ingram. She was born here in Stone Mountain and graduated from Stephenson High School. Dr. Ingram is a physicist that specializes in the field of nanotechnology when she graduated from the University of Georgia last year, she became the first black female to receive a Ph.D. in Physics from this institution.
During her time as a Ph.D. student, she has published her research in more than 15 peer reviewed journals. She received over $100,000 in fellowships, including the Alfred P. Sloan and Department of Energy fellowship to name a few. Most notably in 2015, she was selected to attend the prestigious Nobel Laureate conference in Germany, where she had the opportunity to meet Nobel Prize winners in physics, chemistry, physiology, and peace.
Dr. Whitney Ingram
I want to talk about my research and steps that brought me here. I like to compare my research to movie genres. One of my favorite genres is science fiction and action movies. In a lot of these movies, like Harry Potter, he had a cloak of invisibility. What if I were to tell you that it’s possible to make an invisibility cloak? This type of technology is called meta materials. Meta materials are artificially created materials that can be created on a nano scale that can manipulate light in ways that you normally wouldn’t see anywhere else.
I use this technology to create high-powered sensors that can be used to detect viruses and bacteria using just a fraction of saliva or plasma. This same technology was used to create Nano Motors that can go into the body and break down blood clots.
This was some of the work that made me want to dream big and to do things that people thought were impossible. I didn’t get to this point by myself. I come from humble beginnings. Lots of people assume I went to private school or started off as a genius.
When I was born, I was 2 months premature. I waited 1 pound and 12 and a half ounces. The doctors told my parents that if I survived that I might have mental disabilities. when I was younger I was slow to walk and talk. by the time I got to first grade, I was evaluated for special education.
The counselor told my parents that I didn’t have a mental disability, but I had a problem of moving on when I didn’t understand something. This brings me to my first point about having good study habits.
My parents took me to a store, but I didn’t quite like, called School Box where you can get supplemental educational materials. After school my parents made sure I did at least one page and 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. My second inspiration is doing something that you are passionate about. A lot of people want to know why I got into physics. Honestly, as a kid, I always loved science. As a kid I was always asking why. Why is the sky blue? I would annoying my parents to no end.
That also led me to being curious about other things. I used to check out books from the library. One book in particular that I loved was 101 science projects for kids 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.
At the same time there are opportunities for me to learn through those books by reading them. My passion begin to develop. Even though my parents didn’t have a background in science, and they weren’t teachers, they saw my interests and encourage me.
I always like to encourage students to go after the things they’re interested in. If you like hair and chemistry, there was a girl who graduated from Stevenson High School and went on to Georgia Tech. She later went on to start her own company where you can send in a sample of your hair. They will analyze the hair and recommend specific hair products. She is now in Forbe’s 30 Under 30.
You can take your interest and make them into whatever you want. Even though I was interested in science, by the time I got to high school I was interested in a variety of programs. I was in Science Olympiad, marching band, Beta Club, National Honor Society, and I was co-captain of my tennis team. Most importantly, on my sixteenth birthday, my parents got me an application to work at Stone Mountain Park.
Having the ability to balance school work in extracurricular activities help me in life. But what really stuck with me with physics. That brings me to my last point. Encouragement makes a difference.
Many people have helped get me to where I am. I would like to acknowledge my high school physics teacher. He is Mr. Billinghurst.Mr. Billinghurst was a patient person. When I first took physics, I was like everyone else. I didn’t understand it there was a force that pushes something … It was a different way to think. I am thankful that Mr. Billinghurst took the time to answer all of my questions. at one of the Science Olympiad events, he told my mother that I would ask him some of the toughest questions. He had to go through his physics books to make sure he could answer those questions.
he was also ready to retire my junior year. But, he stayed one more year to teach me AP Physics.I am still thankful for that. That is one of the reasons I am where I am today. He help me to appreciate and enjoy science.
when I found out I was the first black female to get a PhD in physics at the University of Georgia, I was surprised and honored. I assumed there was somebody ahead of me. But, I wasn’t surprised. I have never met another black female physicist. I wanted to do something about that. While at UGA, I worked with the Outreach and diversity Department to recruit students. a lot of the work we do in the lab is labor intensive. So, I always had the help of high school students. I enjoy that they could see what it was really like to go through the physics program. It’s not always easy and experiments don’t always work, but you get a good perspective of what’s going on.
All of the undergrad students I work with went on to get graduate degrees and I like to think that I had something to do with that.
I want to close by saying that I have had plenty of negative comments. I’ve had people that didn’t want to work with me because of the way I looked. but in the end, it doesn’t matter. My work speaks for itself. 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. People will grow to respect you.
I didn’t get to where I am by myself. People like Mr. Billinghurst saw potential in me as well did many other professors at UGA as well as middle and high school teachers, and my parents. When things got tough, sometimes I would give in to the negative comments. It took the support of my family and friends and mentors to get me past those points. I am so thankful. it’s not something that I can repay, but I can pass it forward. I can give it to the Next Generation. I might be the first black female physicist, but I won’t be the last.
This is my way of passing it on. I am thankful for this County and the department of physics at the University of Georgia and my high school and Elementary School teachers for making this a reality.
- Announcement – Compensation & Classification Salary Adjustments
- Update On Phase 2 Salary Steps for All Staff
- Chamblee Redistricting Superintendent Recommendation
- Dunwoody 7-Year Enrollment Forecasts
- 2019 Salary Schedules And Comparison
- New Step Structures for DeKalb Teachers
- 2018 CCRPI
- Chamblee Redistricting Options – Meeting 3
- College Admissions 101
- Graduation Schedule – DeKalb Schools Class of 2019
- DeKalb Schools 2018 CCRPI Scores
- Visitor and Volunteer Policy – Part II
- Chamblee Redistricting Options – Meeting 2
- Make Chamblee Charter HS Better Not Bigger
- Free Speech … For Some At DeKalb Schools … Part II
- DeKalb Schools Visitor and Volunteer Policy
- DeKalb Schools 2018-2019 Calendar
- Make Lakeside HS Better Not Bigger
- DeKalb Schools 2018 Graduation Rates
- Redistricting For Schools in Chamblee & Brookhaven
- News & Updates – 8/30/2018
- Delay in New Austin ES Opening
- School Readiness Report 2018-2019
- GOP Governor Runoff – Kemp has the Mo
- DeKalb Teachers Get a 2.5% Raise And Start Stepping
- July 2018 – New And Open Principal Report
- Chamblee German Teacher Controversy
- June 2018 – New And Open Principal Report
- Dr. Donnie Davis – New Peachtree Charter MS Principal
- TSA & Annexation – Legal Update
- School Councils Are Now Principal Advisory Councils
- City of Brookhaven Not a Fan of Briarcliff HS Site
- Support for DCSD Bus Drivers
- DeKalb Schools FY 2019 Preliminary Budget
- DeKalb Bus Driver Sick Out
- Location of New Cross Keys Brookhaven High School
- Where to Build the New Cross Keys Brookhaven High School
- Policy Input – Magnet Students Participate in Sports
- Dunwoody HS Trailer Park
- Metal Detectors at YOUR School
- Building Additions – Project Plan and Schedule
- Student Protests Wed – The Plan – County by County
- School Safety – What's the Plan?
- News & Updates – 2/23/2018
- DeKalb Schools New Hires
- Mega High School Construction Update
- Virtual Learning Make Up Days
- Adequate Space Requirements For Mega High Schools
- Student Chromebooks – Update
- Survey – Making Up Days Lost to Inclement Weather
- Lakeside HS Council Not A Fan of the Building Additions
- DeKalb Schools Make Up Days
- DeKalb Schools 2018 – 2020 Calendar
- Which DeKalb Schools Are Beating The Odds
- Protesting Cheerleaders at DHS – The Whole Story
- 2018-2020 Calendar Options
- Emergency Weather – What's The Plan?
- Atlanta & Atlanta Public Schools Annexing DeKalb
- Kids Doc on Wheels Medical Van
- DeKalb Schools 2017 Turnaround, Priority & Focus Schools
- Class of 2018 Graduation Ceremonies Schedule
- 2018-2020 Calendar Update
- DeKalb Turnaround Eligible Schools Trends 2015-2017
- DeKalb Schools – Free Speech….For Some?
- Adding Classrooms is Only Part of the Soluion
- DeKalb Schools Enrollment Capacity Data
- Concerns about Lakeside HS Expansion
- DeKalb Schools 2017 CCRPI Trends
- DeKalb Schools Extends Days in November
- 2017 DeKalb Graduation Rates By High School & Demographic
- Emory Annexation and DeKalb County Schools
- DeKalb Schools – Students Kneel During National Anthem
- Teaching Sexual Behavior Standards At School
- Make Up Days – Public Input
- Plan B – Make-Up Schedule
- Make-Up Schedule – DeKalb Schools
- School Make-Up Days
- DeKalb Schools is Back in Business
- School Recovery Report – DeKalb Schools
- Detailed Status Report – DeKalb Schools
- News & Updates – DeKalb Schools – 9/10/2017
- Google Classroom Vs VERGE – Feedback
- Where Is The New Cross Keys HS Going
- Carstarphen And APS Desire To Expand Into DeKalb
- DeKalb Schools Responds To Poor Curriculum, Assessments and Planning Templates
- Feedback – Curriculum & Assessments
- Trailers at Cross Keys High School
- Monday Solar Eclipse – The Plan
- DCSD Home Football Tickets Now Available Online
- New & Vacant Principals & Assistant Principals
- DeKalb Schools Digital Dreamers
- New Laptops For All DeKalb Teachers and Students
- DeKalb Schools Extends School 1 Hour For Solar Eclipse
- Meet DeKalb Schools' New Assistant Principals
- Tom McFerrin, Dunwoody HS Principal, Is OUT
- Meet DeKalb Schools' New Principals
- What is the Purpose of Public Schools
- Principal and Teacher Vacancy Report And Selection Process
- TSA – Summary Judgement
- Billboard Marketing Campaign