There are several persons who have had a tremendous impact upon my professional life. Dr Lee Lorch inspired me to study mathematics and helped to mould me as a person because of his belief in the dignity of all people. He remains my mentor to this day. One of the first Black women to earn at Ph.D. in mathematics, Dr Evelyn Boyd Granville, taught me during my college days and became my first career role model.
Can you imagine what it was like for a 19 year old Black female from Tupelo, Mississippi who had been immersed in segregation for all her life to attend the University of Wisconsin? I underwent a major culture shock. ... I gravitated to students from Africa, a roommate from Thailand, and an office-mate from India, who was the only person to whom I could ask a mathematics question.
... my dissertation advisor, [who] fostered my growth in the area of algebra.
This succession of promotions have permitted her to positively impact the lives of hundreds of young ladies in mathematics and the sciences as well as scores of faculty. During her approximately thirty year tenure at Spelman, Falconer has become one of American's most productive, distinguished and influential mathematics and science educators, generously sharing her time, talents, energies, scholarly publications and presentations with thousands of persons throughout the USA.
I have devoted my entire life to increasing the number of highly qualified African Americans in mathematics and mathematics related careers. High expectations, the building of self confidence, and the creation of a nurturing environment have been essential components for the success of these students. They have fully justified my beliefs. Perhaps the most rewarding moments have come when younger faculty have undertaken the same goal and have surpassed my efforts - reaching out to the broader community to help minorities and women achieve in mathematics.