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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Young man emerges first black person to earn PhD in Mathematics from Indiana university, celebrates unique achievement

A young man named Dominique Kemp has made history as the first-ever black person to bag a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Indiana University in the United States.

Kemp obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Stanford University before proceeding to Indiana University in Bloomington to pursue his doctorate degree in mathematics.

He said while he was at Indiana University, there were no Black professors in the field, and even in his last three years in the program, he was the only Black student enrolled. 

“I was the closest the students got to having a Black mathematics professor here at IU when I was an associate instructor. In 2018, I believe, I became the only one in the Mathematics Ph.D. program when the last of the other two Black students departed from the program,” he said.

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While in the university, Kemp was an active student, he tutored students in mathematics and advocated for more diversity in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields.

“Doing graduate school has really opened my eyes to the problem of underrepresentation of Blacks in the STEM field. And now it has become a big deal to me,” Kemp told Black Enterprise.

Kemp said that now that he has made history as the first Black graduate to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Indiana University, he wants to inspire the next wave of mathematicians.

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“I think a lot of students don’t go into math because it seems daunting to face the spectre of isolation, but I can play a part now that I have a degree,” Kemp said.

I want to create more awareness of Theoretical Mathematics because I think it made it harder for me because growing up, I had no idea there was such a thing as Theoretical Mathematics research,” Kemp added.

He said he plans to continue his work as a mathematics researcher adding that he is heading to the University of Wisconsin for the next four years before taking a postdoctoral position at Princeton University Institute for Advanced Study. 

Kemp said he hopes his story inspires other students looking to pursue a career in math. He is proud of his historic accomplishment and holds his degree as the most important thing he’s done thus far.

“I started off with very little encouragement and very little hope, and it never seemed like it was going to happen until 4 or 5 months ago when I had job offers. So just to be striving in the midst of so much discouragement, I don’t think anything else I do in life will compare,” he said.

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