12 Minority Celebrities With #STEM Degrees (part 1)

Editorial Note: We are proud to introduce you to Brit Fitzpatrick as our Special Tech Contributor on PIC. Her complete bio is listed below. Connect with her and we look forward to her contributions. Enjoy.

John Urschel @JohnCUrschel
Baltimore Ravens Offensive Lineman, Professor, & Mathematician
: Penn State & M.I.T.
Major: Mathematics

Who says sports and STEM don’t mix? Certainly not John Urschel. The aspiring chess master, published mathematician, and offensive lineman for the Baltimore Ravens attended Penn State where he earned his undergraduate degree in math, graduating in just three years. He then earned a master’s degree from Penn, which he completed in only one year.

During the 2016 NFL offseason, He enrolled in a Ph.D. program at M.I.T., studying spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra, and machine learning. Since 2012, he’s authored two academic papers on mathematics, which are published in the Journal of Computational Mathematics and the journal Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.

Off the field, John is an avid evangelist for promoting the intersection between sports and STEM. He teamed up with Texas Instruments, the creator of literally every graphing calculator you use(d) in school. Together they’ve launched STEM Behind Sports, a program providing sports related activities for the TI-84 Plus family of graphing calculators to inspire students to explore the mathematical and scientific sides of sports.

The first program, “Field Goal for the Win!” is a free game that allows students to look at the math and science behind scoring a perfect field goal. Through the game, students study the relationship between time, distance, and elevation, while building reasoning skills and discussing why a field goal kick fell short or was good. The program’s second game, “Power Up! The Physics of Finishing First,” guides students on an exploration of the relationships between energy, work, and power as they compete in a virtual triathlon.

“Math isn’t just about solving problems in the classroom. The connection between STEM and sports is a powerful one and understanding this connection will help students succeed on the field and off of it.”

Tia Mowry-Hardict @TiaMowry)
& Tamera Mowry-Housley @TameraMowryTwo)
Actors, Entrepreneurs, Authors, & Television Hosts
: Pepperdine University
Major: Psychology

We know this counts as two celebs and that each woman is brilliant in her own right, but we couldn’t break up the set. With a knack for business and matching psychology degrees, Tia and Tamera Mowry first gained fame as the stars of the ABC/WB 1990s sitcom Sister, Sister, which ran for six years. After which, Tia and Tamera headed to Pepperdine University where they both graduated with degrees in psychology. “No matter what happens, I’ll always have my degree to fall back on,” Tia once said while explaining the importance of getting her college education.

Following graduation, the twins got back into acting and had a successful run at reality TV through their eponymous show Tia & Tamera, which premiered on the Style Network in 2011 and was the most-watched series launch in the network’s history. Today, Tia and Tamera are both published authors and successful entrepreneurs through their product line for new moms and their production company Twilight Productions. These STEM sisters are also winning in the television host game. You can watch Tamera weekdays on the hit talk show, The Real and catch Tia on the Cooking Channel with her own show, Tia Mowry at Home, and on the Food Network as Co-Host of Food Network Star Kids. You go girls!

Herbie Hancock @herbiehancock
Music Legend, Pianist, Composer, Keyboardist, Bandleader, Composer, & Actor
College: Grinnell College
Major: Engineering

Few have impacted the course of popular music quite like Herbie Hancock. The genre-fluid pianist, composer, and multiple Grammy® Award winner holds dual degrees in music and electrical engineering from Grinnell College, a reflection of his passion for the intersection between electronics and science. Even fellow musical icon and jazz trumpeter Miles Davis tipped his hat to the Chicago-born piano prodigy, writing in his biography:

“Herbie was the step after Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk, and I haven’t heard anybody yet who has come after him.”

Most famously known for his electronic infused hit “Rock It”, Hancock has a slew of hits. Fun fact, those who grew up with the beloved character “Fat Albert,”  will be delighted to know that Herbie Hancock composed the soundtrack for the animated series, which aired in 1969. Hey, hey, hey!

In 2014, Herbie took a position at Harvard University as the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry. With a distinguished career spanning five decades and 14 Grammy® Awards, including Album of the Year, Herbie continues to dazzle audiences across the globe.

Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu)
Actor & Entrepreneur
Major: Sociology

Omaha-native Gabrielle Union attended the University of Nebraska before transferring to UCLA, where she earned a degree in sociology. After graduation, she began her acting and appeared in several guest roles on various tv sitcoms before landing her breakthrough role as a cheerleader in the cult classic “Bring It On.”

 Gabrielle has become a regular leading lady in Hollywood starring in hit films like, “Deliver Us from Eva” and, most “Think Like a Man”, “Bad Boys II” and Almost Christmas. In 2010, Gabrielle launched her first entrepreneurial venture Love & Blessings, a clothing line for plus-sized women. In 2014, she followed up by launching her first wine, Vanilla Puddin — a California Chardonnay. Cheers.

Today, you can catch Gabrielle playing the lead character in BET’s hit drama series “Being Mary Jane.”

Michael Jordan
Basketball Legend, Entrepreneur, “Lebron before Lebron”
: University of North Carolina
Major: Geography

In addition to being the face of the official Space Jam coin, (which I still have, #sorrynotsorry), Michael Jordan is known for changing the game of basketball and arguably, all of sports. During his NBA career, Michael played 15 seasons in the NBA for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

We’re going to just gloss over that brief stint in baseball and move on to his NBA stats and accolades. Among them are, being a 2x Basketball Hall of Famer; 5 MVP Awards, 3 All-Star Game MVP Awards, and 6 NBA Finals MVP Awards; and holding 2 NBA records, one for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and the other for the highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, MJ was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN and was second to Babe Ruth on the Associated Press’s list of athletes of the century.

After getting picked by the Bulls in the 1984 NBA Draft during his Junior year at the University of North Carolina, Jordan returned to UNC and earned his degree in geography in 1986. There’s an ongoing debate as to whether Geography falls under “STEM.” According to our research, Jordan’s degree is in “cultural geography,” a sub-field within human geography, which concentrates on the study of human activities, by the application of qualitative and quantitative research methods. Because of its emphasis on research methods, we’re dubbing MJ a STEM celeb .

Deshauna Barber
Miss DC 2016, Miss USA 2016, Army Lieutenant, & IT Analyst
: University of Maryland University College
Major: Management Information Systems and Services

In 2016, Deshauna Barber became the first active member of the military and the ninth African-American woman to win the Miss USA title. Last weekend, she represented the USA at Miss Universe in the Philippines and placed in the Top 9 among 86 competitors vying for the crown.

In addition to being Miss USA, Deshauna is commissioned as a Quartermaster Officer and a Logistics Commander and Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserve where she works as an IT Analyst for the United States Department of Commerce. She earned her master’s degree in management information systems and services from University of Maryland University College and is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.


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