Meet Park Faculty Scholar Kanton Reynolds

Original article by Rachel Cox, Parks Scholarships

Kanton Reynolds has twenty years of industry experience working for companies including General Motors, IBM, and Lenovo in a variety of capacities spanning quality engineering, system assurance, program development, and project management. He is originally from Columbia, South Carolina, and earned his bachelor’s degree at NC State, his MBA at UNC-Chapel Hill, and his master’s and Ph.D. at North Carolina A&T University. As a graduate student, Reynolds worked in the political and economic sections of the U.S. Embassy in Malawi, researched Malawian and Sudanese political issues and human rights, monitored compliance with United Nations treaties, and served as an international election observer in Guyana as a part of The Carter Center formed by President Jimmy Carter and based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Reynolds is currently a teaching associate professor and the Director of Undergraduate Programs for the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He recently was honored with an Award for Excellence from the College of Engineering for the innovative ways he has transformed the ISE student experience. His academic interests include STEM study abroad, underrepresented minorities in STEM, engineering education, and engineering management. In his free time, he enjoys golfing, cycling, cheering on NC State Sports!

Reynolds and Cyndi Edgington are the Park Faculty Scholars for the Class of 2023.

What is the best part about being a professor at NC State?

As an NC State alumnus, it is rewarding to be back on campus in a professional capacity. I enjoy being in a place that I consider home and helping this generation of students achieve their goals and dreams.

What is something all Park Scholars should know about you?

I am an avid NC State sports fan and I can be found regularly at every football game as well as at both Men’s and Women’s basketball games.

What inspired you to become a Park Faculty Scholar? 

Dr. Clifford Griffin, who has served as a Park Faculty Scholar to multiple classes, recommended me to Eva Feucht, the director of the program. I also consulted with Dr. Lisa Bullard (Park Faculty Scholar for the Class of 2018) before committing to the role. The opportunity to work with the best and brightest students at our university was very appealing and has been tremendously rewarding.

Share a story about a Park Scholar who inspired you.

There are so many! Ana Sofia Uzsoy ‘21 would be first because her father and I both work in the Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. He welcomed me to the department as a faculty/staff member and has served as an informal mentor. Through our relationship, I have had so much insight into her work and achievements. Next would be Georgia Burgess ‘21 who is a student in the department and an ISE Ambassador. I had a chance to work on a project with one of her high school teachers which was really rewarding and provided some background and connection to her many achievements. Finally would be Natalie Kraft ‘22 who has done some amazing work through her internship with the U.S. Department of State at the U.S. Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. When I was a Ph.D. student I was also an intern at the U.S. Department of State in the Bureau of African Affairs, so we had some really interesting connections around our shared experiences.

Which Park experience are you most excited about?  

So far, I have enjoyed our Freshman Retreat to Black Mountain the most. It gave us a chance to really get to know the students (and for them to get to know each other) and set the tone for an experience grounded in community. I am most looking forward to some of the changes we are planning, including working more closely with the Cheatham-White Scholars Program at North Carolina Central University, because I think these will give our scholars some interesting new perspectives to consider. 

Kanton Reynolds
Kanton Reynolds talking with ISE alumni at a tailgating event at Duke Power in Charlotte, NC

What has been the most surprising or challenging aspect of your involvement with the Park Scholarships program so far?  

Being a Park Faculty Scholar is a lot of work but it is so fulfilling and enjoyable! Having the chance to celebrate successes (both small and large) with the scholars is tremendously rewarding. I attended the Class of 2021 Senior Celebration and although I only knew a few of the students it was touching. I can only imagine how I will feel when it is time to send the Class of 2023 off into the world. I will miss them dearly but I know they will go on to do great things just evidenced by what they have accomplished collectively over the first two years.

What is one thing someone might not know about Park Scholars?  

Park Scholarships is not an insular community. It doesn’t exist in a vacuum or only to benefit the scholars or the class. The purpose is to enrich the entire community — both at our university and in our city/county/state. The expectation is that our scholars are also leading with vision and character through their service as well.

What advice would you offer to Park Scholars? 

Being a Park Scholar is a tremendous honor. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, ask questions and be intellectually curious about things outside of your domain (major/minors). That’s your gift to fellow students, faculty, and staff. Allow them to learn from you but also equip and prepare you for success.

This article was originally published by Parks Scholarships.