Henry Ransom Cecil McBay (1914–1995) was an African – American chemist and a teacher. McBay was able to receive a good education because of his proficiency in math. He was able to gain admission to Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, and paid for his education by working in the college’s dining-hall and post office. Inspired by his math and chemistry professors, McBay studied organic chemistry and earned his B.S. degree in 1934. His Wiley professors helped him acquire a scholarship to Atlanta to work on his next degree.

With only $1.65 in his pocket, McBay immediately took a job in the Atlanta University dining hall so he could eat. After only a few days on campus, his faculty advisor, Professor K. A. Huggins, arranged for him to work in the chemistry laboratory.

McBay began to help Huggins study new types of plastics that had properties similar to natural rubber. Soon, McBay was performing his own analysis of the plastics. When the project was finished, he received his master’s degree from Atlanta University and Huggins received his doctorate from the University of Chicago. This indirect connection to the University of Chicago would later be important to his career.

After earning his master’s degree, he returned to Wiley College so he could help his younger brother and sister pay for college. However, going “home” proved to be a disappointment. Some faculty members still thought of him as their student and never accepted McBay as an academic peer. Because of his devotion to his siblings, however, he remained at Wiley until his brother received his college degree and his parents were able to pay for his sister’s education.

In 1938 McBay took a better-paying teaching job at a Quindaro, Kansas junior college. At the end of the first year, he enrolled in the University of Chicago summer school program, where he received good grades for that term. When he returned to Quindaro, he found that the new junior college principal had, for political reasons, hired an instructor in his place.

Content: Wikipedia

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