Dr. Jean Engohang-Ndong was born and raised in Gabon, a French-speaking country located in Central and West Africa.
He currently lives in Jackson Township with his wife Charlotte Engohang. They have six children, four girls and two boys.
Since 2007, he has been a university professor teaching courses in biological sciences. He is a tenured associate professor of biological sciences at Kent State University Tuscarawas, where he has been a faculty member since 2010.
He also operates his own business, Ekaza-Bridging The Gap. Engohang-Ndong was immersed in an educational environment from an early age as his father was a schoolteacher.
“Education was paramount to my father,” he said. “So naturally, I embraced it. Fast forward, after graduating from high school, I started my graduate studies at Masuku University of Science and Technology in Gabon where I graduated with a d associate in biology and chemistry. At the end of my associate’s degree, I obtained a scholarship which allowed me to go abroad and more precisely to France where I continued my higher studies in the field of biological sciences.There I obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biology with a specialization in cell biology and physiology.
“I finally completed my graduate studies with a doctorate in medical microbiology at the end of 2003 at the Institut Pasteur de Lille in France. Immediately after obtaining my doctorate, I decided to come to the United States to continue my research adventure. as a post-doctoral researcher in the field of tuberculosis.
“My major interest was in identifying potential drug targets in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacteria responsible for human tuberculosis. interact with academia.
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What is the mission and vision of Ekaza-Bridging The Gap?
Ekaza-Bridging The Gap is organized to support higher education access, persistence, and meaningful post-secondary graduation by providing educational support services to our most vulnerable student populations, including , but not limited to, minorities, economically disadvantaged, first generation and international students.
Through our personalized academic support services, our approach is to meet our students where they are and thereby provide a platform for academic and personal success. Ekaza achieves its goals by providing tutoring, academic counseling and academic coaching services.
Ekaza is committed to instilling a passion for innovation and creativity in our youth (grades 6-12) through its academic enrichment program in the field of STEAMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics and Medicine). In doing so, Ekaza prepares the next generation to meet the unique challenges inherent in their space and time.
Our vision is to create a better future for our young people and for our local, national and international communities.
Ekaza is located at 800 Market Ave. N, Suite 1610, in Canton.
Why did you decide to start your own education-based business?
I developed Ekaza-Bridging The Gap for several reasons. First, I was a university professor and taught undergraduate students from a variety of backgrounds for the past 15 years.
Second, I am the father of six children, three of whom have graduated from high school and are now pursuing post-secondary education at various levels. The oldest earned a bachelor’s degree in public health from Kent State University. She is now enrolled in a master’s program in public health at New York University in Manhattan. My second child is in her second year at Kent State University where she is a pre-med student and hopes to earn a Bachelor of Science degree that will allow her to apply to medical schools. My third child is a freshman law student at Honors College at Eastern Michigan University, where she is in their forensic league for speech and debate.
Through my interactions with my children, I have learned that most, if not all, students do better when they have a mentor who is supportive and caring. I have noticed that many students fail to pursue a college education, sometimes when they go to college they don’t persist and/or fail to get a meaningful college degree, or make the right choices career paths, not because they lack the potential to achieve their dreamed goals, but because they lack the support needed to help them navigate the complexities of higher education and/or complexities of life itself.
As an experienced college teacher, I know that “one size does not fit all” when it comes to supporting the academic success of our students. Therefore, meeting our students where they are is a goal I pursue.
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What do you teach or have you taught at Kent State University?
I have taught and still teach a wide range of undergraduate biology courses at Kent State University. Some of the biological science courses I teach include, but are not limited to, microbiology, biological foundations, biological diversity, human biology, human genetics, and human anatomy and physiology.
Would you like to list some of the activities or hobbies you do outside of teaching and running your own business?
I am also a researcher. My research focuses on microbiology and health.
When I’m not teaching, doing research in my lab, and running my organization, I enjoy walking/hiking, landscaping, doing carpentry projects around my house, discovering new places, and doing craft activities. outdoors with my family and friends.
What are some of the charities or causes you are involved with in Stark County?
I have been involved in issues related to social justice, promoting access to education, academic success, professional and personal development.
Because of my involvement and expertise in education, NAACP Stark County Chapter President Hector McDaniel recently invited me to join the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientists (ACT-SO) as co-chair to help jump-start the ACT-SO program in Stark County and prepare our youth for national competition. ACT-SO has not been active in Stark County for over a decade.
My short-term goal is to develop an academic enrichment program in the STEAMM field at Ekaza-Bridging The Gap where students will learn critical thinking skills, use problem-based learning to solve real-world problems. Thus, we will prepare students in grades 6-12 not only for local and national ACT-SO competitions, but also for other types of academic competitions in science, technology, mathematics and medicine.
I also currently work in collaboration with Chester’s Mop, Men of Tomorrow, Mentor Stark and TomTod Ideas with whom I have the chance to share my expertise in education.
Finally, I would like to say that I am proud to be a member of the Stark County Minority Business Association and a member of the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce Education Committee.
Editor’s Note: Five Questions With… is a Sunday feature that features a member of the Stark County community. If you would like to recommend someone to participate, email [email protected]