President Salutes Morehouse graduate Leland Shelton

Jayne Matthews Hopson | 5/29/2013, 3:48 p.m.
Imagine this. You have earned a Phi Beta Kappa key, which makes you a member of the world’s most prestigious ...

His transition to college was a lonely time for Leland. “When I first came to

Atlanta [to attend Morehouse] I had no friends, no relatives. I was an okay student in high school. But, I immediately decided to dedicate the next four years to not being average” says Leland.

Another important part of his success was the financial and moral support he received from the Black Professional Men, Inc (BPM). Following the advice of his high school guidance counselor

Leland applied for and was award a thousand dollar scholarship from the Baltimore based mentorship organization.

Leland says Rodney Carter, BPM vice president was always there for him. “The money was helpful, but his guidance and mentorship was priceless. Each years BPM hosts a breakfast the Saturday before Father’s Day and awards 12 scholarships to black male high school seniors who have been accepted into some of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities.”

Two years ago Carter called to tell me one of his students, Fagan Harris, a Stanford grad had been selected as a Rhodes scholar. In terms of high academic achievement that accomplishment would be pretty hard to top. Yet, I think most would agree a presidential shout-out is a unique recognition that not only excites the imagination, it acknowledges a student population often ignored or burdened with negative stereotypes.

As a rising junior Leland interned in the Washington, D.C. office of Senator John Kerry. "I learned a lot about the workings of our Congress. I was provided the opportunity to sit in on congressional hearings on foreign relations and briefings on SNAP benefits, and other welfare issues.” He crafted memorandums to staffers, conducted research and submitted a policy recommendation to a legislative assistant.

When asked about his future, after he completes law school, Leland plans to return to Baltimore and practice child advocacy law.

Congratulations to Leland and all the proud members of the class of 2013, with a special shout out to Jessica Brockington who graduated from Howard University.

For more information about this year’s Black Professional Men’s breakfast and awards ceremony visit: http://www.blackprofessionalmen.org/

Jayne Matthews Hopson writes about academic issues because she believes “only the educated are free.”