Dinah Gail Gant became the first African American female to receive an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from the University of Arkansas. She was the first daughter born in to the home of Floyd Clifton Gant and Theressa Malone Gant, sharecroppers working a farm in Woodruff County approximately three miles south of Tupelo in Northeastern Arkansas. Her family consisted of 10 children: five older brothers and four younger siblings.
Gant’s formal education began as a first grader at an elementary school in Fitzhugh, Arkansas. Fitzhugh Elementary school included three classrooms and three teachers, each responsible for two grades. After sixth grade and consolidation of Fitzhugh and Carver Schools, Gant continued her education at Carver Schools in Augusta, Arkansas until completion of eleventh grade. Beginning with the 1970 school year, forced integration was implemented in the state of Arkansas. Gant graduated from the newly integrated Augusta High School as its Valedictorian in May of 1971.
Gant enrolled at the University of Arkansas in the fall of 1971 with a declared major of civil engineering. While at the University of Arkansas, Gant was active in Black Americans for Democracy, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, American Society of Civil Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, and Society of Women Engineers. Gant received the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award and was elected to Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges. Gant worked various jobs while studying and summer employment included stints in New York City, St. Louis, Houston, Little Rock, and Springdale.
Upon graduating in August of 1977, Gant began her professional career as an outside plant engineer with Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Hot Springs, Arkansas. After successful completion of Bell System’s Accelerated Management Development Program, Gant left the company and accepted a position as a civil engineer with Polytech Inc. Consulting Engineers, headquartered in Cleveland, OH. Shortly after, she was transferred to Milwaukee to work on all phases of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s deep tunnel project from project design through construction completion.
In 1991, with a young family making consulting work travels unappealing, Gant accepted a position with the City of Milwaukee as the manager of its newly initiated storm water management program. Later, she was promoted to section manager for Engineering Section of the Milwaukee Water Works Division of the Department of Public Works for the City of Milwaukee. She retired from the Milwaukee Water Works in 2013.
In 2001, Gant became first female and African American to be inducted into the Arkansas Academy of Civil Engineers. Throughout her career and into retirement, Gant has and continues in volunteer efforts and service on nonprofit boards. She has held memberships in American Society of Civil Engineers, American Public Works Association, American Water Works Association, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Jack & Jill of America. She is a licensed professional engineer and has served as an adjunct instructor. Gant is married to Fredrick J. Raspberry, a former resident of Augusta, Arkansas. They have three daughters and one grandson.