Astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi pulled himself up through 'hope and hussle'

ABC News’ Linsey Davis speaks with astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi about his memoir “A Quantum Life: My Unlikely Journey From the Street to the Stars.”
7:25 | 06/16/21

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Transcript for Astrophysicist Dr. Hakeem Oluseyi pulled himself up through 'hope and hussle'
It's now is a world renowned astrophysicist. Doctor Hakeem Olin shaking Alicia A was a distinguished professor of aerospace physics and space sciences at Florida Institute of Technology. And is also taught at MIT UC Berkeley and University of Cape Town to name a few. He also served as the space science education manager of the science mission directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington DC but now. He can add author to his long list of accomplishments his new book wants a life my unlikely journey from the street. To the stars delves deep into a king's childhood and how navigated through a path of struggle survival and eventually triumph with the odds stacked against him mixing. Alicia eighty speaks his truth and shows us how anything. Is possible doctor Alou Shea we thank you so much for your time in joining us tonight. Thank you so much from so happy to be here so you think fielding your book all the ups and downs of your journey to becoming an astrophysicist growing up in the sounds you say that you experienced a crime drugs and poverty can impact yourself and those around you but he still managed him pulling yourself through it. Can you explain what's your highest silos Sloan pursuit of their educational professional journey. Yes solar Lois Lois really easy. Guy who did all the wrong moves follow my self a college drop out. Day and it because I was living in a dangerous life I decided to leave that life behind me I didn't actually accomplishes six but what I did was I got a job and the job that I could get that year was working as a janitor at a nearby hotel. Com and I was I promise a college drop out outsold pour. At the time I'll click import all the Bauer could barely get twenty hours a week that the way I'd eat many days was by eating people's left over. Room service food. And it you don't that was my lowest point I found myself homeless at times while myself struggling in the deep many times. But Detroit okay him when I began to. You know I I found people that helped me out I had the hostile. I had the whole but are really veto lot of help in people who did help me. And not least among them was my PC advisor. 2002. He was also look up PC advisor for our first female astronaut Sally ride. And you know he and I published. New information discovery in the new digs about our side. And that Kirby was the highest point where Al they would make good new contributions acknowledged. A do soul with my mentor who are loved dearly. Eight assists. Tell about your biggest inspiration to become an astrophysicist. Yeah so you know I started ball. Being interest and in the natural world and the first person who pulled beard was jock who stole so you caught me at like eight years old and after what I wanted to be I would have stayed in ocean biographer but bid refuted cycle previous I have covered Albert Einstein and his theories of relativity and about this. Relativity and quantum physics is that sure is the natural world which makes it makes it interesting and more greatest super interesting to me event it was weird it was story out below weird story stuff and what stranger. Pilot travel in the latest changes. And before obtaining your master's and Ph.D. at Stanford University you attended one of the nation's oldest HBC news for your undergraduate degree in Mississippi. And during your time Harry ultimately had a breakthrough. That you say will lead to you to explore Astro physics at Y Chile HBC news there are so important. All they absolutely are I have no question in my mind that I going to Stanford University as an undergraduate I wouldn't be here today it was better for me to go to to Lulu and bid to stay at the university. And a reason why is because. There is a great diversity. In our communities. There are people that come from families where their parents or grandparents are highly educated you have people like me where nobody your family graduated high school leave it not my parents my grandparents or my siblings that were older than me sole. All them big knew how to take care of a student like me. I showed up OK it was brought even have it apply I didn't Knowles that that targeted at college right I thought all you know I was a note toppled by high school class I'll get there and I have a full ride. Well that's not the case thought highly developed pay it off Boston goals problem but they knew how to take people. Or fraud by environment and turned them into successful professionals so what the time. Two blue collar was the top producer of African American doctors in the nation and Ed top news of African American attorneys. It was self. Exit what I would bear didn't you know we produce like three Ph.D.s in physics in three bass is degrees in physics from just don't graduated one or two students a year so doors opened really special. And when you look at where the top scientists among African Americans come from quite often be attributed HB CU at their undergrad. And eat a lot about being a black Manny in science you've discussed the lack of representation within your academic and professional fielding and also had experiences where you say that you felt your intellect was questioned. Simply because you're black. It explained was impact and how you managed move forward through that. Yes you know was really funny helping work so when you're young and urine culture read racism or big that hurt you in general you wish to avoid them for the young person brought up the deep south I develop what I call race's radar right if somebody spoke to give a certain way I know not to put myself in certain positions with the right well what triggers race's radar when people Saro talk to you like bigger speak their superiors to you well in academia. Especially a physics. That happens normally bright so it took me awhile to realize all you're not a racist jokes that are a video package fight differently. When you know old that it happened to do with circumstances of your boat. But really it's about that all the person souls what I like the thing is my blackness being black has never calls the eighty hardship ever. But in count three the people that discriminating gets me or people are pre judge me back. This what called me hardship. You're not a racist register sounds like a bumper stickers on the net Wesley just a center kids you are are growing up in circumstances. Similar to your own advice would you give. Well up. The first figures is listen. Win people are trying to make life don't vote for use. Dole quit and let them kick you out because they never do that there's a lot that we do that is wrapped up eight bit misconceptions right so for example I have students. What does it take to get a college degree and I'll talk about. Bob I want to class all this not till now all got to go to college or don't leave. You'll get a degree right what does it take you don't you here is to avoid what is they also would still got suspect got the harbor they both be brilliant. No old babe must've been admitted that's all that beings soul. Understated. How the world works and it's hard to do what beautiful do we have the world but. Fight fight fight your impossible dreams K and be achieved. His new book the content like my unlikely journey from the street to the stars is available now wherever books are sold doctor Hakim only O'Shea such a pleasure to talk to appreciate coming on the shelf break Gmail.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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