ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- Gregory Allen was the kid who did math homework for fun and relaxation. Today, he uses his math and engineering talent, plus his interest in community service, to protect our country, mentor young people and serve the community.

An engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Allen wanted to work for the Department of Defense so he could use innovation to protect the country. He began his career in 1991 with what now is the U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command, then transferred to the U.S. Army Chemical Materials Activity. At CMA's Center for Treaty and Implementation Compliance, Allen is the subject matter expert and staff proponent for implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, a treaty created to eliminate chemical weapons worldwide.

CMA supports Army modernization and Soldier readiness through safe, secure storage of the nation's two remaining chemical weapon stockpiles at Pueblo Chemical Depot, Colorado, and Blue Grass Army Depot, Kentucky, and assessment and destruction of recovered chemical warfare materiel. Allen said working for CTIC means he has "direct impact on making us safer by helping to rid the country of chemical weapons."

He was attracted to engineering early in life, studying science and math in high school at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and majoring in chemical engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. He said he later earned an MBA, "just because I believe we should never stop learning and growing," and another degree may be possible.

Allen said his greatest joy and inspiration is his son, who is pursuing an education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math at the University of Maryland College Park, where he is a sophomore on the dean's list. Allen advises young people to pursue their passion, and research existing opportunities so that passion can provide for the future.

For African-American youth, Allen added, "Use the strength of your ancestors to persevere and block out any negativity or doubt that may come your way.

"Not everyone is cheering for you to succeed," he said, "so it's up to you to show up and show out!"

This pursuit of passion and opportunity is evident outside Allen's work, where he finds fulfillment as a singer and actor, and through operation of the non-profit Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, Inc. The choir enables singers and lovers of sacred music in the African-American church tradition to perform and share the heritage and legacy of musicians, composers and arrangers who have contributed to this historic musical genre. As if that weren't enough to keep him busy, Allen also operates his own catering business.

"People often ask how and why do I do so much, and my response is always, when you love what you do, it's easy to make the time to do it, and it doesn't seem like work," he said.

As an African-American in DOD, Allen said, "It's unfortunate that in 2018, we're still fighting for equality and a level playing field."

While he considers sharing his perspective as his "duty," understanding the struggle faced by African-Americans doesn't make it less frustrating.

"I am proud to be able to pursue my dreams and break stereotypes," he said, "and affect my small part of this society. I'm proud to use my voice, even on a small scale."