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Black History Month
2019 Honoree

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Willie E. Taylor

Willie E. Taylor

Professor of Mathematics

Texas Southern University

Where are you from?

Houston, Texas

 

Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/ cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.

I had very good algebra teachers in high school. But my main interest was in music. I thought I was going to be a jazz music composer. I had not planned to major in math in college. However Prairie View A&M University did not have a jazz music curriculum. This was the reason I turned to the math thing. Perhaps patterns in mathematics and music was what appealed to me. After deciding to major in math I observed the math faculty members at Prairie View. I had thought about teaching math in high school but it did not seem to right that you took so many math courses and you would not use them in teaching high school. I decided I wanted to become a college professor during my second year of college and asked my professors what was it that I needed to do to make it happen. They told me that I needed a Ph.D. in mathematics. From that time on I made plans for that to happen.

 

What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences?

Not just getting a Ph.D., but the publications have made me very proud. I realized that publications could take me to a higher level of recognition than just the doctorate. Mentoring several students that have received doctorates in mathematics or are currently candidates for the PhD have also made me very proud. Some of my most proud accomplishments are contributing the field of Qualitative Theory of Difference Equations and mentoring students. To connect my passion for research and mentoring, I established a research experience named after L. L. Clarkson. It was and still is my goal to expose students to research early. As we know, the sooner students “feel” mathematics, the sooner they will love it.

 

Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

If you really want it, you can do it.