MACON, Ga. — Kedrick Hartfield, a long time math professor at Mercer University, grew up with no intentions to teach.
After graduating from Augusta College with a math degree in 1979, Hartfield was offered four jobs: a vending machine money collector, garbage man, high school janitor, and a farm worker.
"It hurt my pride, because neither one of these needed a college degree, neither one required a high school diploma, so I decided I would go back to school," Hartfield said.
So he got his Master's degree, and that's when UGA offered him a teacher's assistant position.
"I initially didn't want to do that because teaching was at the bottom list of things I wanted to do with my life. It was right below going into a branch in the military, and right above being a life long criminal. I really did not want to teach," Hartfield said.
He took the job anyway, and it changed his life.
"I enjoyed it so much, it's almost as if I became addicted to it," he said.
He later took a job at Mercer that was only supposed to last one year and he never looked back.
He's now the longest serving professor in the math department, and the university's longest serving black professor.
"He trailed paths, that I no longer have to trail. I am very appreciative of that, but I am very much aware that he had to go through some hardships to get there," Keith Howard said.
Howard is a former student of Hartfield's and is now a Mercer professor.
Howard says that Hartfield has paved the way for many black professors like himself.
"People of color can be competent, they can do a good job, and they can be good role models," Howard said.