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Black History Month
2020 Honoree

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Christopher C. Jett

Christopher C. Jett

Associate Professor of Mathematics Education

Department of Mathematics

University of West Georgia

Where are you from?

I am originally from Memphis, TN. Memphis is a unique city with a rich history of Black excellence (even though that portion of the city’s story is largely overlooked). Notwithstanding, I understand that the city doesn’t have the best reputation. However, it provided me with a strong mathematics, racial, and spiritual identity. In particular, my upbringing in the Church of God in Christ provided me with spiritual grounding that I rely upon heavily to date. I also claim both Nashville and Atlanta since I completed my higher education in those cities.

 

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

I remember receiving a mathematics certificate for earning a 100 on each and every assignment for a particular grading period in sixth grade.  I wrote about this experience in the foreword to my dissertation on mathematically successful African American male students.  The presentation of that certificate in front of my classmates was deliberate and strategic, and it left an undeniable impression upon me. In addition, I received the only A+ on my report card ever as a result of this experience. That A+ boldly signaled to me that I had a special gift in mathematics, so I felt empowered to stay in that lane and run steadfastly in it.

 

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

I am most proud of my Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). CAREER is NSF’s most prestigious award granted to “early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education.” I put a lot of work and effort into receiving this award, and it was a blessing to see my hard work come to fruition. Because of my CAREER work, I was subsequently awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). The PECASE is the premiere award for those who are advancing in their independent research careers and demonstrate exceptional potential for STEM leadership. I am equally proud of that meritorious accomplishment as well.

 

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

Regarding my personal life, I am most proud of the influence that I have with my family. As the oldest of three children, I am definitely a leader within my immediate familial sphere. However, that extends to my nephews, cousins, and other relatives and close friends. I am often called upon to assist with mathematics assignments and that has morphed into being the go-to guy for all things school related. I enjoy this though and am blessed to be able to pour into the next generation of leaders, scholars, and professionals.

 

Finally, please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.

I would encourage individuals in the mathematical sciences to stay committed to the work. I would also add to exude patience as plans, dreams, and visions manifest. On another note, I use motivational quotes and scriptures for inspiration. I’ll close by mentioning one of my favorite scriptures found in I Thessalonians 5:18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”