By Shelley McKinley

With a humble spirit and a pattern of excelling, Kristala L. J. Prather has done it again! She is now the new head of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  This comes after having been promoted from associate professor to Arthur D. Little Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT in 2017. According to an August, 2017, article in the Longview News Journal, Prather credits her 11th-grade history teacher, Dianne Mears, for making the connection between math and science to engineering, and encouraging her to apply to MIT.  Her application led to acceptance to the school and ultimately the career path and ground-breaking research that she conducts today. Prather was the  first African American Valedictorian of Longview High School in 1990.  the second would not occur until 2007. Her mother, Alvena Jones, affectionately recalled how her daughter set her goal to become the valedictorian of her class.


“Kris was always very focused and knew what she wanted to achieve. While at a school event during her freshman year, she was congratulated for having the highest g.p.a in her class. It was news to both of us. At that moment she decided that she would not make less than a 95 in any class. She set her mind to it and achieved it,” shared Jones. “In spite of all her accomplishments, she is very humble and reaches out to students from Texas that she encounters at MIT,” added Jones. Additionally, Prather uses her personal time to empower students beyond MIT and connect with the next generation.


While on sabbatical, she connected with future Black women scientists and engineers at Spelman College. She also has the Prather Research Group website which features her three main categories of research, training videos, resources, publications and more. Anyone interested in science or engineering can simply go to the site and start learning. According to the August 24, 2021, MIT Technology Review, Professor Prather made it practical to turn microbes into efficient producers of desired chemicals. She is also working to reduce dependence on petroleum. To date she has 72 publications, and has been cited by other researchers nearly 3000 times.


The article, “Dynamic regulation of metabolic  ux in engineered bacteria using a pathway-independent quorum-sensing circuit,” (August, 2017) is an MIT Open Access article and considered a  flagship paper. “Until you start talking about E.coli, you wouldn’t know how smart she is,” lovingly stated Jones, underscoring her daughter’s humbleness. Prather received her bachelor’s degree from MIT in 1994 and her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in 1999. She joined the faculty at MIT in 2004. Prior to joining MIT, Prather spent four years working in bioprocess research and development at the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. She starts her new position effective Jan. 1, 2024.

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October 16, 2023, HOUSTON, TX – Congressional Candidate Amanda Edwards has raised over $1 million in less than 4 months, a substantial sum that helps bolster the frontrunner status of the former At-Large Houston City Council Member in her bid for U.S. Congress. Edwards raised over $433,000 in Q3 of 2023. This strong Q3 report expands on a successful Q2 where Edwards announced just 11 days after declaring her candidacy that she had raised over $600,000. With over $829,000 in cash-on-hand at the end of the September 30th financial reporting period, Edwards proves again that she is the clear frontrunner in the race. “I am beyond grateful for the strong outpouring of support that will help me to win this race and serve the incredible people of the 18th Congressional District,” said Edwards. “We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s trajectory, and we need to send servant leaders to Congress who can deliver the results the community deserves. The strong support from our supporters will help us to cultivate an 18th Congressional District where everyone in it can thrive.” Edwards said. “Amanda understands the challenges that the hard-working folks of the 18th Congressional District face because she has never lost sight of who she is or where she comes from; she was born and raised right here in the 18th Congressional District of Houston,” said Kathryn McNiel, spokesperson for Edwards’ campaign. Edwards has been endorsed by Higher Heights PAC, Collective PAC, Krimson PAC, and the Brady PAC. She has also been supported by Beto O’Rourke, among many others. About Amanda: Amanda is a native Houstonian, attorney and former At-Large Houston City Council Member. Amanda is a graduate of Eisenhower High School in Aldine ISD. Edwards earned a B.A. from Emory University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. Edwards practiced law at Vinson & Elkins LLP and Bracewell LLP before entering public service. Edwards is a life-long member of St. Monica Catholic Church in Acres Homes. For more information, please visit

As September 13th rolls around, we extend our warmest birthday wishes to the creative powerhouse, Tyler Perry, a man whose indomitable spirit and groundbreaking work have left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment. With his multifaceted talents as an actor, playwright, screenwriter, producer, and director, Tyler Perry has not only entertained but also inspired audiences worldwide, particularly within the African-American community, where his influence and role have been nothing short of powerful. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969, Tyler Perry’s journey to stardom was a path riddled with adversity. Raised in a turbulent household, he found refuge in writing, using it as a therapeutic outlet. This period of introspection gave rise to one of his most iconic creations, Madea, a vivacious, no-nonsense grandmother who would later become a beloved figure in Perry’s works, offering a unique blend of humor and profound life lessons. Despite facing numerous challenges, including rejection and financial struggles, Perry’s determination and unwavering belief in his abilities propelled him forward. In 1992, he staged his first play, “I Know I’ve Been Changed,” which, although met with limited success, was a pivotal moment in his career. Unfazed by initial setbacks, Perry continued to hone his craft, and by 1998, he had successfully produced a string of stage plays that showcased his storytelling prowess.

Calling all teenage student-athletes! If you have dreams of playing college soccer and wish to represent an HBCU, the HBCU ID Camp is your golden opportunity. From 8 am to 5 pm on November 11-12, Houston Sports Park will transform into a hub for aspiring male and female soccer players. Coaches from HBCUs across the nation will be present to evaluate, scout, and offer valuable feedback. Moreover, they might even spot the next soccer prodigy to join their collegiate soccer programs. This camp is not just about honing your soccer skills but also a chance to connect with the HBCU soccer community. You’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to excel on the field and in the classroom, which is crucial for a college athlete. The HBCU ID Camp is an excellent platform to network with coaches, learn from experienced athletes, and take the first steps toward your college soccer journey. To secure your spot at this incredible event, don’t forget to register [here](insert registration link). Space is limited to 120 participants, so make sure to reserve your place before it’s too late. It’s time to turn your dreams of playing college soccer into a reality.

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