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Black History Month
2021 Honoree

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Brittany L. Mosby

Brittany L. Mosby

Director of HBCU Success

Tennessee Higher Education Commission

 

Where are you from?

I grew up in the Atomic City of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, home of the Oak Ridge National Lab. I am a third-generation graduate of Spelman College, following in the STEM footsteps of my grandmother, Gwendolyn Mosby (C’51) who majored in biology, and my grandfather Nate Mosby (C’52) who majored in mathematics at Morehouse College. After obtaining my masters in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University, I taught at Pellissippi State Community College as a tenured associate professor of mathematics. I spent eight years in the classroom before deciding to return to school, finishing my doctorate in higher education leadership and policy at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.

 

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

While I have always had a knack for math, growing up I was more interested in reading and writing. My earliest career goals were to become a lawyer and then the first African American woman on the US Supreme Court. I am very fortunate to have parents and other adults who encouraged me in achieving my goals, however, two teachers– Mrs. Benita Albert in high school and Dr. Jeffrey Ehme in college– pushed me to develop my mathematical skills and to consider math as just as fundamental a tool as written and oral communication. (And, once I learned that math majors have some of the highest scores on the LSAT, I was sold!)

What convinced me to pursue graduate work in mathematics was undoubtedly the two summers I spent in research experiences for undergraduates (REUs) in cryptography and later mathematical finance. There I learned the satisfying cycle of open-ended research and the excitement of working with a research group on interesting problems.

 

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

Today, even though my job title is not mathematician, I use and promote STEM education every day. From analyzing and developing state policy to advocating for and assisting HBCU students, mathematics plays an extremely important role in all that I do. I am proud to be an example of one of the diverse career paths that are available for math majors. I think more Black girls should be encouraged into developing their math prowess, because the world is at the feet of a STEM-talented woman!

 

What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your personal life?

In 2013 a friend and I signed up for an open-water triathlon (500m swim, 20km bike, 5k run). When we showed up on race day in bathing suits while the other racers were putting on full-body wet suits, we knew we were out of our league. We were the last out of the water, the last to get on our bikes, and the last to run across the finish line. But, as we rounded the final turn together, we were surprised to see that many of the other participants were cheering us on! As we collapsed at the refreshment tent, the race organizers informed us that several people had dropped out of the race that day, and that our determination to finish was the most impressive they’d seen. I learned a lot about myself that day, but what I am most proud of today is the fact that despite being last and despite the daunting distances yet to go, I did not give up. That triathlon is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and now I know that if I can survive that, I can get through anything.

 

Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

“Time is precious– waste it wisely.”