MSU Alumna Promotes Diversity in University Faculty with Detroit-Based Startup
Michigan State University alumna and entrepreneur Kerry Ann Rockquemore is founding CEO of the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity. Based in Detroit, it’s an independent professional development, training, and mentoring organization for diverse faculty members, postdocs, and graduate students around the United States.
It has its roots at MSU as Rockquemore was inspired by MSU University Distinguished Professor Emerita Geneva Smitherman.
“She was the first woman of color faculty member I met at MSU,” says Rockquemore. “She was the person who encouraged me to see a larger version of myself and had an extraordinary impact on my life.”
Rockquemore says she’d like to see more women and minorities become professors.
She’s a supporter and mentor to members of MSU’s Women in Entrepreneurship, a registered student organization run by female undergraduates. She gave the initial startup capital to make it happen.
She describes how entrepreneurship for her is fundamentally about identifying problems and designing solutions. And she strongly believes that entrepreneurial skills can be learned and honed. One isn’t necessarily born with these skills.
Kerry Ann believes that if she can evolve from professor to entrepreneur then anyone can.
“What makes you successful as a professor is at the opposite end of the spectrum of what makes you successful as an entrepreneur. So if I can go from a career of being a scholar and transform my own ways of thinking and learn to be nimble and effective in a totally different environment that runs at a significantly faster pace, then I’m quite certain anyone can.”
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