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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Engineer credits success to hometown

Sunday, April 28, 2002

John Longstreet
SIKESTON - When John Longstreet was in high school, his life revolved around football. He even received a full athletic scholarship to Southwest Missouri State University where he was named 1984 Coors Player of the Year in football. A year later he graduated with a bachelor of science degree in industrial technology.

Although the Sikeston High School graduate still enjoys sports, it's no longer the center of his world. Now his life is built around his family and career.

And lately he's been busy signing autographs. Longstreet was recently named 2002 Black Engineer of the Year at an awards conference in Baltimore, Md. He earned the title for his work and dedication as manager of technical support for Toyota Motors Production Engineering Division.

"My group is responsible for the investigation, development, installation, and training of digital engineering applications for Toyota North America Production Engineering Groups," he noted.

Now living in Cincinnati, Ohio, he's come a long way from growing up in Sikeston. But he hasn't forgotten where he came from.

"I had such a great childhood in Sikeston," he said fondly. "The person I am today was strongly influenced by the memories I have from my hometown. I know there were many people who created who I am. In many ways the success that I have is an honor to them for their support."

Longstreet said he's flattered to have earned the title Black Engineer of the Year, noting that Toyota actually nominated him for the United States Black Engineer of the Year Award. Although he didn't receive the award on the national level, he did receive special recognition by the United States Black Engineer Magazine which features him in a special section in the March/April edition.

"Toyota prides itself on the ability and accomplishments of the engineering team," Longstreet said. "The recognition of being that engineer who Toyota Motors felt was a leader within the Toyota Engineering Group is the most gratifying professional recognition possible. It means that the professional course that I have taken is being recognized for its commitment to be part of a company team. My professional career, especially at the manager level, is dependent on my ability to work with others.

"When I discovered I would be named in the USBE Magazine, professionally I felt very humbled," he admitted. "I appreciate the recognition but I hope that somehow this can be an inspiration to my children and family. What this means to me is that our commitment has been recognized."

Although his wife, Cassandra, son Michael, 23, and daughters, 15-year-old Megan and Cassie, 11, are thrilled to be living with a celebrity of their own, no one could be prouder than his mother.

"I think it's great," said Sikeston's Goletha Longstreet. "He was always interested in sports but I think everything changed when he married right after school. I'm not surprised that Johnny's done as well as he has though, he's always been a go-getter and once he sets his mind to do something he's going to do it."

Although he admits he's good at what he does, he stressed he's the person he is today because of two special ladies in his life.

"My wife and my mother are the ultimate support system," said Longstreet. "I know the goals that I place in my life have been developed to support my family. I put pressure on myself not to ever let my family feel that I'm not making my best effort.

"My parents are the key to everything in my life. I have always had such a strong family which has given me the opportunity to reach my goals. My parents were there for me when I was young and today my mother is the inspiration I use every day. My mother and father's work ethics were something I noticed at a very early age. Both parents found work as a means to giving the opportunities for my brothers and sisters to try something new."

The advice he offers young African American men is to realize the importance of a support system and never to merely settle for anything.

"I ask that each African American male, especially those in Sikeston, understand that the support systems are their family, teachers and church. The key to success is to develop the conscience that your goals are achievable when you dedicate yourself to constant self-improvement."