Raymond T. Perkins III
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Columbia, South Carolina. I attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia and studied mathematics and economics. Then I completed a PhD in Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey. I currently reside in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Please describe an experience (or 2) that helped you discover/ cultivate your interest in the mathematical sciences.
I developed a love and appreciation for mathematics while at Morehouse College. Before college I usually did well in my math classes, but I didn’t actually enjoy the topic. It wasn’t until I took Set Theory with Professor Farouk Brania that I actually began to enjoy the subject. During his class I developed an appreciation for mathematical intuition and realized that there was much more to the subject than just computation. I learned that mathematics is a general framework for thinking and with a little creativity that framework could be applied to other areas of life.
Throughout college I was very fortunate to be mentored by many brilliant and accomplished men and women of color. Those relationships had a profound effect on my appreciation for the quantitative sciences and career. I specifically owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Duane Cooper and Dr. Rudy Horne. Dr. Cooper introduced me to mathematics research and was my research mentor through undergrad. He was the first person to encourage me to pursue a PhD and the first person I called after I successfully defended my dissertation. Dr. Horne introduced me to applied mathematics and instilled in me the confidence to actually pursue a career in the quantitative sciences.
What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your career in the mathematical sciences?
Professionally, I’m most proud of completing my PhD. It was one of the most difficult experiences of my life and would not have been possible without the support the black mathematician community.
What is/are your most proud accomplishment(s) in regards to your personal life?
I’m getting married in a couple of months and I’m really looking forward to the new chapter in my life.
Please share some words of wisdom/inspiration.
I believe creativity and tenacity are two of the most beneficial traits to develop, not only as a mathematician, but as a human being. Creativity is the ability to imagine new possibilities and tenacity is the necessary skill to realize those possibilities. Develop your creativity by actively and constantly exposing yourself to new ideas, people, and experiences. Develop your tenacity by constantly creating new challenges for yourself. With enough creativity and tenacity nearly anything is possible.