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He Just Made History As The First Black Student To Receive A PH.D. in Mathematics from Indiana University

He Just Made History As The First Black Student To Receive A PH.D. in Mathematics from Indiana University

He’s ready to hold the door open for those behind him!

Dominique Kemp just made history as the first Black student to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Indiana University (IU), Black Enterprise reports.

Kemp was homeschooled as a teen, earning an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from Stanford University before pursuing his Ph.D. in mathematics at Indiana University Bloomington. During his tenure at Indiana, Kemp said there were no Black professors in the field. In fact, for 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,” Kemp recalled. 

On campus Kemp stayed active, tutoring students in mathematics and advocating for more diversity in the STEM 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 reporters. 

Last month, Kemp graduated with his doctorate, becoming the first Black graduate to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics from IU. Now, he wants to inspire the next wave of mathematicians.

“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. 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 said. 

The Lansing, Michigan native is now planning to continue his work as a mathematics researcher. He is heading to the University of Wisconsin for the next four years before taking a postdoctoral position at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study in 2023. Kemp 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. 

Congratulations, Dr. Kemp!

Photo Courtesy of Dr. Dominique Kemp/LinkedIn/Black Enterprise