Faces of Black Excellence

After several rejections, 28-yr-old is youngest Black professor to teach simultaneously at Columbia, NYU and UCLA

In 2012, Eli Joseph received a rejection email from the Columbia University Office of Undergraduate Admissions. Four years later, he received another rejection email from the New York University Tandon School of Engineering for a doctorate in Technology Management. 

Interestingly, on May 17 this year, he served as a Faculty Marshal at Columbia University and the Faculty procession at the New York University Commencement ceremonies, which fell on the same day.

“If you can’t get accepted to these institutions, become the instructor,” said 28-year-old Joseph, who is now the youngest Black instructor to teach simultaneously at three universities – Columbia University, New York University, and UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), according to Blacknews.com.

After several rejections, he is now one of the few instructors to teach at three prestigious universities at the same time. Born and raised in New York City, Joseph’s incredible story began in June 1994, growing up in a conservative Haitian household. His parents ensured that everyone had formal education and saw to it that Joseph attended Benjamin Banneker Academy where he graduated with academic honors as a student-athlete. He ran cross country and played basketball for some time before heading to Queens College, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree after completing a 30-credit load semester, he told VoyageATL.

“I wanted to challenge myself to try new things as I utilized the skills that I learned over the years and cultivate applications that can bring certain quantitative theories to real-life. This challenge led me to pursue a career on Wall Street,” he said to the platform.

While working on Wall Street, Joseph pursued a master’s degree in business administration at Brooklyn College, graduating in 2016. With a master’s degree, Joseph soon started feeling dissatisfied with the way that he was utilizing his skills so he left Wall Street to begin what he called a new chapter as an educator while pursuing his Doctorate degree in Business Administration (D.B.A.) at Felician University. By the age of 22, he was already a business faculty member at Marymount Manhattan College where he taught courses in Economics, Business Statistics, and Information Technology.

At 24, he became a faculty member at the Columbia University School of Professional Studies and a member of the Grammy Recording Academy. Joseph went on to become the first-ever graduate in school history to have received a doctorate degree in Business Administration right before he turned 25.

But the road to success was not smooth sailing. Besides having to deal with what he described as academic and professional politics along the way, he said he also sent thousands of different job applications to prominent firms, only to be rejected by each and every one of them. Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Google, Amazon, and Facebook were some of the companies that rejected him.

“I felt isolated at times as I struggled with the notion that I had to accomplish my objectives alone,” he said. Thankfully, the young educator was able to overcome the struggle of rejection and feeling isolated by seeking advice and mentorship from other professionals who had similar experiences, he said.

Today, Joseph is doing marvelously well in education at a young age, and this is also thanks to his mother and family members, who also played a huge role in his development.

Mildred Europa Taylor

Mildred Europa Taylor is a writer and content creator. She loves writing about health and women's issues in Africa and the African diaspora.

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