Assistant Professor of Molecular Oncology, Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University
“Being a leader is now my career,” says Mark Brown, Ph.D. His many roles include professor, department director, oncology expert, senior scientific consultant for the pharmaceutical industry and principal investigator for labs that have developed therapeutics for colon, liver and breast cancers. And he points to his higher education beginnings as a LeCroy scholar as critical to his leadership acumen. The scholarship, named for second DCCCD chancellor Dr. R. Jan LeCroy, supports DCCCD students identified as having leadership potential.
“My time at DCCCD gave me the foundation I needed to succeed for the rest of my academic journey,” says Mark, who earned his doctorate in molecular genetics from the University of Texas and now specializes in molecular oncology and epigenetic factors of embryological development. (Epigenetics is the study of cellular and physiological trait variations caused by external factors that switch genes on and off.)
He graduated from Dallas's Bishop Lynch High School and knew he wanted to attend Colorado State University (CSU) to enroll in its top-ranked resource management degree program. But his parents had made it clear that paying for college was his responsibility. Though he worked full time as a custodian at a local church while in high school and CSU had offered a small scholarship, he still didn’t have enough saved to start college out of state.
“When I was offered the
LeCroy scholarship, it gave me an opportunity to stay home and continue to work and save for CSU. But it also did much more than that: It paved the way for me to participate in several leadership positions at Richland and afforded me the opportunity to meet one-on-one with Jan LeCroy, Mike Myers [who established the LeCroy scholarship] and the Richland president. Lessons from those conversations continue to shape the way I face challenges and opportunities today.”
Today, Mark Brown continues to both give and receive mentoring in his academic and professional lives. An Eagle Scout, he volunteers as an instructor for the Boy Scouts of America, judges and mentors for high school science competitions and volunteers at events for wilderness and natural resource preservation.
“As a LeCroy scholar, I learned to be bold and much more: Ask questions. Don't make assumptions. Be open-minded. Don't burn your bridges. Stick to your values but don't push those values on others. We all have a history of life experiences that define how we relate with the world. Be patient when someone disagrees with you, and try to appreciate how their life experiences brought them to their perspective on the given situation. There are rarely right or wrong answers in life ... only positions along an infinite continuum of perspectives.
“I can honestly point to the LeCroy Scholars Program as having contributed to all of these lessons and values. It’s my turn to help bring up the next generation,” he says of his mentorship of junior faculty and students at all levels. “I never underestimate how much of a difference that a small piece of advice or a little encouragement can have in someone's life. I know from personal experience from having been on the receiving end of such advice and encouragement.
“It now gives me the greatest pleasure to give that back as a mentor.”