Leroy Sterling, a long-time educator who was one of the first Black students to enroll at Texas A&M University, died on August 8 in Bryan, Texas. He was 84 years old.
A native of Booneville, Texas, Sterling applied to Texas A&M University in the early 1960s but was denied admission. But in 1963 he and two other Black students were allowed to enroll in summer sessions. There, he earned credits that went toward his bachelor’s degree at historically Black Texas Southern University. Sterling later described his experience at Texas A&M as positive overall, noting his fellow students were “really nice” and befriended him. Sterling went on to earn a master’s degree in French from the University of Houston.
Sterling taught at Texas Southern University for five years. He then launched a 17-year career at Dow Chemical Company before returning to the academic world to teach at Alabama A&M University and what is now Jarvis Christian University.
“Leroy Sterling is counted among Texas A&M University’s most esteemed former students and will always be a treasured member of the Aggie Family,” said Mark A. Welsh III, interim president of the university. “Mr. Sterling first served his country and then went on to serve our university by forging a path for all students to achieve their goals in higher education.”