Okra Spotlight: Dr. James Gerald

Dr. James Gerald has traveled, taught, worked and learned through every phase of his life.

Delta State Univ.

Dr. James Gerald has traveled, taught, worked and learned through every phase of his life.

Dr. James Gerald, Associate Professor of Physics, is the director of Delta State Univ.’s honors program. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree, two master’s degrees, and two Ph.Ds. Gerald has been a member of the Delta State faculty since 2014. 

Gerald has worn many hats in his lifetime. He has traveled, taught, worked and learned through every phase of his life. He may look like an average professor at Delta State Univ., but there is more to him than what meets the eye. 

Gerald’s History

Gerald was born in Brookhaven, Miss., but moved to Vicksburg in his high school years. He states that he always loved physics, even in his formative years. 

Growing up on a college campus, Gerald always planned on being a professor. Most of the adult men he was raised around were college professors. 

“Not many five-year-olds say they want to be a professor,” he says. “But that’s what I knew.”

He continued to follow his dreams of becoming a professor and even pursued it throughout college and grad school. 

“My intent all through college and grad school was to be a professor, and I was headed in that direction and doing that,” he says.

During the late 90s, Gerald took a position at Christopher Newport University, based in Newport News, Va. Shortly after, Gerald stepped away from academics for a unique job opportunity with the United States Air Force. He also worked at CERN with advanced experimental physics for a period of time. 

Gerald states, “It was sixteen years before I decided to step back into academics.”

Coming to Delta State

After deciding to pursue his dreams of becoming a professor once again, Gerald looked around the country for jobs. An opening at Delta State presented itself, and he returned to Mississippi, not only for the new job opportunity but also for family reasons. 

Gerald’s favorite part about being a professor is the students: “Seeing you guys [students] grow, seeing you guys learn, having that interaction where you’re trying to get to understanding, that’s the fun part.” 

“Learning inspires me. I am always trying to learn,” he adds. This mantra carries over to how Gerald facilitates his classes and his instruction tactics. In every class he teaches, he encourages his students to use learning to inspire themselves.

His favorite course to teach is honors seminar. In this course, he guides students into the work field and experiences through interviewing individuals that he brings into the class. He believes that this builds a better understanding for students’ careers and future life experiences. 

Gerald’s Message to Students

I want to tell all of our students: travel.

— Dr. James Gerald

Gerald spoke extensively about his time traveling across the world. His favorite place he has ever been to is France, but he has numerous fond memories in many different countries across the world. 

“I loved the international travel I’ve had when I was outside of academics,” he says. “I want to tell all of our students: travel.” 

According to Gerald, travel shapes a person and makes them better. He advises his students and the students at the university to find a way to travel and experience new cultures. 

“Travel; it is the one thing I have done in my life that I would never want to give up,” Gerald says.

Traveling, specifically international travel, has been a very influential part of Dr. Gerald’s life. He wants the students of Delta State to experience the world in the same way he did. Gerald himself has been greatly influenced by different cultures. He believes that experiencing new cultures can greatly improve a student’s quality of life and add to their life experience. 

Summing It Up: 

Dr. Gerald is an influential person on campus. He applies his life experience to his teaching and mentoring through his classes. He’s been around the world and experienced a number of different cultures.