HBCU Buzz

2014 HBCU TOP 30 UNDER 30

HBCU TOP 30 UNDER 30 HEADER

10 – George A. Olokun | Florida A&M University

hbcu top 30Mr – Opportunity national and international travels have allowed him to speak for thousands. Since his college days, he has been utilizing his oratorical gift to transform the lives of everyone. As a world renowned speaker and high potential young entrepreneur he finds himself engaged to opportunity.  Earlier this year, he was named one of the Top 11 Leading Professional Speakers in the HBCU community, he’s also been featured in the League of Extraordinary Black Men, and has been on MSNBC and C-SPAN.

In 2013, the award winning mentor program by the name of Mentor One, founded by George “Mr-Opportunity” Olokun, is celebrated 10 years of impacting the lives of thousands of high school and college level students. In 2011, George received the New Leaders Council National 40 under 40 Leadership Award, a very prestigious award naming him one of the TOP 40 Progressive Leaders in the Nation. In 2008, George founded GDot Empowerment, LLC. –A Global Enterprise that serves as the parent company of the following entities: GDot Consulting, GDot Publishing Group, and GDot Hospitality Group. From the conference room to the community, George is an extremely passionate individual that loves people and to help others overcome obstacles in their lives.

As an author, thousands have been empowered by his words and publications, which are available in several countries. In 2012, George’s second book entitled “MR-OPPORTUNITY: A Changed Mindset” was published and has received rave reviews. Two years earlier in 2010, the Amazon Best Seller “Empowered To Achieve: 50 Keys To Being and Becoming” was also published.

George served from 2010-2013 as the Founding Chairman & 1st President of the EMERGING 100 of Atlanta; the young professionals auxiliary of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta, Inc., in addition to sitting on the board of directors for two non-profit organization and has held a plethora of other leadership/service roles.

9 – DJ Tay James | Hampton University

hqdefaultHampton University Alumnus Taylor James, also known as DJ Tay James or The Boy Wonder, is continuing to decorate his already illustrious career as a DJ. In addition to his repertoire of more than 100 mixtapes, James has been the official DJ for teen sensation Justin Bieber since June.

“I got a call from DJ Boogie who had referred me to Justin. I dropped everything I was doing and flew to Oklahoma, and I’ve been with him ever since,” said James. James’ success comes as no surprise. James, a Baltimore, Md. native, has been DJing since he was 12 and has been self-employed since he was 16. James also interned for Unruly Production and Communication when he was 16. There he learned the business aspect of the music industry.

James also credits HU for some of his knowledge of entrepreneurship. “My accounting, international business and marketing classes have definitely helped prepare me,” said James. In addition to touring with Bieber, James has a blog, a website that gets over 10,000 views daily and he continues to produce mix tapes, the most recent of which, College Radio 14, has over 1,000 downloads.

8 – Mary Victoria Pickard | Spelman College

Pickard1Mary is a dedicated student, but also a caring sister who truly embodies the Spelman sisterhood.  As a political Science major, Spanish minor throughout her years at Spelman Mary has committed herself to her studies as she maintains a 3.9 major GPA while participating in several student organizations including: Morehouse Business Association, Residence Hall Association, SKIRTS- Sisters Keeping It Real Through Service, Phi Alpha Delta, Pre Law Fraternity, a Goldman Sachs | Spelman Leader, and a recently inducted member of the National Society for Leadership and Success.  If that is not enough, she is a servant leader outside her community as well.  Mary is a literacy tutor at Gigi’s Playhouse- a center for children with Down Syndrome, a mentor with YES! Atlanta, and the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation.

Mary has a total of over 400 service hours since she has entered the gates of Spelman, I think that is an accomplishment in itself.  For the 2013-2014 academic year, Mary served as the Spelman Student Government Association Secretary of Academic affairs where she actively worked with the academic provost and deans to restructure student advising and first year and second year experience.  A strong, dedicated, and fearless young woman, Mary was in a terrible accident in October that left her hospitalized for two weeks, and could not return to school for the remaining semester.  Doctors and nurses alike informed Mary that she would not be able to complete her course work, but with her endless determination Mary’s knew that even with all her downfalls and stumbles she would finish her course work and ultimately graduate with her class.  And that she did.  Finishing the semester with a cumulative 3.88 GPA Mary is truly a phenomenal woman.  The following semester Mary achieved one of her greatest goals while attending Spelman College, and is now our 2014-2015 Spelman Student Government Association President.

7 – Leon White | North Carolina A&T University

leonLeon White is a Doctoral candidate and is truly one of our brightest and most distinguished students of our generation.  He has 4+ years of extensive technical experience in a dynamic and interdisciplinary work environment. He is an effective communicator whom easily interfaces with individuals across various leadership levels. He has proven strategic decision making evidenced by the simultaneous management of multiple projects with the ability to assess various vantages, create solutions and add value to organizational operations. He has served as a graduate researcher for a federal grant sponsored by the National Science Foundation at North Carolina A&T State University.  He has developed coatings to inhibit the corrosion of Magnesium and its alloys for possible biomedical applications. He has utilized plasma electrolytic oxidation method to develop ceramic like coatings on Magnesium substrates. His research processes involve high energy electric pulses to produce an oxide layer on surface.

Leon is a White House HBCU All-Star, the NSF Engineering Research Center National Champion Student Testbed Winner for developing a test bed idea focused on understanding the corrosion mechanism of magnesium from a macro and micro perspective, and he is also a Title III Scholar for The U. S. Department of Education, Institutional Development and Undergraduate Education Services.

Leon is not only influential in the professional and engineering realm, but he is also influential in our community.  I don’t want to write out his resume, but I do want to express why I personally wanted to nominate Leon White because he is someone I have looked up to since I was a freshman at A&T.  He is driven, ambitious, hard-working and also humble.  Leon is one of those people who not only wants to be great but wants everyone around him to be great as well.  He has truly been like a big brother to me.  Leon is that guy who not only cares about how you are doing in your personal life, but he always wants to know what you are doing to get yourself ahead of the game.  He was not only main motivator, but everyone’s motivator.  He is a leader.

6 – Breagan Ricks | Spelman College

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERABreagan Ricks is a senior biology major on the pre-med track at Spelman College hailing from Memphis, TN. At Spelman, Breagan is a Bonner Community Service Scholar, and a member of the Health Careers Program. As a sheer reflection of her scholarship and diligence, Breagan has been inducted into the Alpha Lambda Delta First Year Honor Society and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. During her freshman year, Breagan merged her love for science with her passion for community service and founded a non-profit organization entitled FunLab, Inc. whose mission is to teach minority and disadvantaged children basic scientific concepts through fun laboratory experiments. Each month, FunLab works with students from M. Agnes Jones and KIPP Strive Academy and has ultimately reached nearly 200 students in over ten schools in three cities, a Primary Anglican school in Belize, and a Christian missionary school in Haiti. For her efforts with FunLab, Breagan was honored to be the first student to ever receive the Local Community Service Award that is granted on behalf of the President of Spelman College and its Board of Trustees, and Breagan was also chosen to be featured as a Hero Next Door in this year’s May issue of Ebony Magazine.

FunLab was also selected as a project within the Dalai Lama Fellowship that awards highly competitive, yearlong fellowships with a project grant of up to $10,000 to students at select universities and colleges worldwide. In the past, Breagan has done molecular biology research, served as a member of the Miss Spelman Advisory Board and as a Peer Assistant Leader (PAL) to incoming Spelman students. In her free time, you may find Breagan, rereading a classic novel, sharing special moments with loved ones, or adding stamps to her passport. Breagan aims to be a cosmopolitan woman and has traveled abroad to England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales as an international ambassador and to the Bahamas to perform on a Disney cruise ship. Breagan has also ventured abroad to rural Panama to provide free health care to underprivileged communities last spring break.  During her sophomore year, Breagan was selected to participate in the Early Medical School Selection Program (EMSSP) at Boston University, the only one of its kind in the country, and upon graduating from Spelman, Breagan aspires to become a pediatric oncologist conducting research and volunteer work via a global healthcare partnership for developing countries. As Breagan continues to write new entries into each chapter of her life, she makes certain to keep God as the center of her joy while growing more in her faith each day.

5 – Wes Bellamy | South Carolina State University /Virginia State University

DD-PicWes Bellamy, originally from Atlanta, GA moved to Charlottesville, VA in September of 2009 after graduating from S.C. State University. He started his career at the National Ground Intelligence Center. Bellamy later resigned to pursue Law School in route to become an advocate for people in the community. After receiving several law school acceptance letters, Bellamy was convinced by community leaders and school personnel to pursue a career as a teacher and eventually a principal.  Upon notice of a lacking positive African American influence in the school system, Bellamy jumped at the opportunity. He now teaches computer science and African American Studies at Albemarle High School, and recently graduated from Virginia State University obtaining a Master’s Degree in Education Administration. He will soon become an administrator at his current High School, and he truly sets an example for all of the kids at the school. Succeeding devotion of countless hours to the youth of Charlottesville, Bellamy wasn’t satisfied with his efforts. On December 7, 2011, he started the Non-Profit (H.Y.P.E.) which stands for Helping Young People Evolve. H.Y.P.E. is a boxing and mentoring program currently serving 24 boys.  Additionally, in September of 2012, “H.Y.P.E. Steppin” was created as a women empowerment program for young ladies. H.Y.P.E., based and predicated on discipline and accountability, has seen instant results. In a little over one year, the overall GPA of participants jumped from a 1.8 on 12/8/11 to 3.2 as of 4/14/14. The program was so successful that a second location in Columbia, SC.  Mr. Bellamy’s main focus is improving the lives of those who lack resources and positive role models in their lives.  He does this by sponsoring Community Days, Coat Drives, and empowering as many youth as possible through his Non-profit. Bellamy makes it a point to serve multiple communities in whatever way possible. H.Y.P.E. has hosted six “Community Days” across the state of South Carolina in Florence, Columbia, and Myrtle Beach, and another four in Charlottesville, VA. At these events a total of 3,500 people were fed, over 1,200 book bags have been given away, over 150 people were registered to vote. He would like to believe that at each of these events, people also left feeling empowered. H.Y.P.E. has also hosted four “Big Giveaway” Coat Drives the past two years in which we have raised and donated 1,800 coats in Columbia, SC and 1,600 coats in Charlottesville, VA, all of which were given away to the homeless and disadvantaged.

While serving on the 100 Black Men of Central VA, C100 Black Men of Central VA Advisor (UVA Chapter), African American Teaching Fellows, PHAR (Public Housing Association of Residents) Advisory Board and the Charlottesville Housing Advisory Committee in April of 2013, Bellamy, at the age of 26, decided to try his hand in politics. Disappointed with the lack of African American representation on Charlottesville City Council, Wes felt he should be the person that felt the missing void on council. After running a very strong race, he recorded the second tie at the polls in Virginia State History. Bellamy eventually lost by 5 provisional votes that had not been counted, however his showing in the race was a moral victory. He has been even more determined and motivated to help the people of Charlottesville, recently organizing and starting two new organizations, The Charlottesville Young Black Professional Network (YBPN) and the Charlottesville/Albememarle Alliance of Black School Educators (CAABSE).

4 – Earl Cooper | Morehouse College

Earl Cooper | Morehouse CollegeEarl Anthony Cooper is a 2011 graduate of Morehouse College where he received a scholarship to play golf for Morehouse and earned a B.A. in political science. As 2010 and 2011 most improved player, he was instrumental in leading the school to its first National Championship in 2010. Prior to attending Morehouse he became the first African American all-state golfer for the state of Delaware and has continued to earn many golf honors and achievements, including S.I.A.C. (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) First Team-All Conference 2010 and 2011. He completed the PGA (Professional Golf Association) Post-Graduate Program and is pursuing a professional golf career. He continues to reflect the attributes of a Morehouse Renaissance Man by being Well Read, Well Traveled, Well Spoken, Well Dressed and Well Balanced.

While an undergraduate, Earl Anthony was vice president of the Next Great American Poet Society Morehouse Chapter. In that role, he increased the awareness Atlanta high school students have about the importance of literature and helped provide forums for expression through poetry. While in high school in Delaware, he served as vice president of Young Achievers, where he mentored and motivated his under-classmates to strive for excellence and success in life.

Despite his humble beginnings, Earl Anthony has been playing golf since the age of six, when his dream of making a living in the sport began and never died. He knows what it is to face challenges in school and wants every child to master reading, find it fun and discover the same spark he did to follow their dreams. One way he is providing that encouragement is through “Hello, Maroon Tiger!”, a children’s book he authored during his senior year at Morehouse while taking a double course load and traveling with the golf team. “Hello, Maroon Tiger!” the first Mascot Book about a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), is a children’s storybook that follows the Morehouse mascot around the historic Morehouse College campus. It engages early elementary age children and helps them visualize attending college when they grow up.

3 – Francena McCorory | Hampton University 

francena-mccorory-track-6Displaying natural young talent, Francena McCorory established the American indoor 400m record in 2010 at the age of 22 – winning her second straight NCAA title competing for Hampton University. McCorory won gold in the 2011 World Outdoor Championships final, and subsequently qualified for her first Olympic Team in 2012; where she went on to win gold as a member of the 4x400m team in London.

A native of Hampton, Va., McCorory currently resides and trains in her hometown, and is a proud graduate of Bethel High School. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Hampton University and will pursue her dreams of becoming a mortician after she retires as a Professional Track & Field Athlete.

McCorory has been featured in several prominent publications including Sports Illustrated and Essence Magazine, in addition to several other local and national publications. She plans to continue to use her talents to inspire and empower youth to work hard, dream big, and always “cross the finish line” in all endeavors.

2 – Thabiti Stephens | Morehouse College 

HBCU TOP 30Steps by Stephens, an Atlanta-based shoe company, was founded in 2010 by Thabiti Stephens. After becoming close friends with Malcolm Conner at Morehouse College, the two have linked their talents, love for footwear, and passion for philanthropy in 2011. The young entrepreneurs became business partners making Steps by Stephens one of the hottest up and coming shoe collections on the market. Although these 21-year-old males have achieved a great deal of success from Steps by Stephens including a huge feature in Black Enterprise last year, the vision encompasses much more.

With some of its proceeds, Steps by Stephens aims to provide meals for Atlanta children and families in need. Since its initial launch in 2012, Steps by Stephens has donated thousands of dollars to charity and is focused on achieving a global outreach to end hunger. Stephens and Conner believe staying trendy and doing good in the community is important. By dedicating countless hours to community service, Steps by Stephens has built loyal customers worldwide, even acquiring celebrity clientele over the past two years.

This June, Steps by Stephens will step up the shoe competition with the release of its new summer collection. Steps by Stephens has upgraded its classic style shoe for better comfort and is available in blue, red, and black. The shoes are great for the family, available in men, women, and children’s sizes. Step into style this summer with a pair of Steps by Stephens

“We design, manufacture, and retail our shoes—the whole nine yards. We oversee every step,” Stephens says.

Stephens first came up with the idea in 2010, a week after high school ended. He spent much of that summer mapping out the business, designing the shoes, and researching manufacturing options. Stephens incorporated the business in late 2011 and began selling shoes six months later. He came up with $25,000 in startup funding, which was gleaned from his own savings and that of his new business partner and college roommate, Malcolm Conner, 20. They used the startup capital to produce, market, and distribute their footwear, carrying an initial inventory of 2,500 shoes. The company sold an average of 55 pairs a month, or 330 total, the second half of 2012, generating about $20,000 in revenues. “In the first two months of 2013, we were averaging 108.5 sales a month, (selling from the initial 2,500 inventory) resulting in a little more than $13,000 in revenues,” Stephens says. To date, the company has donated $4,000 to local homeless shelters.

1 – Bakari Sellers | Morehouse College

bakari_sellersMr. Sellers is a young, Black politico in South Carolina. He was influenced greatly by his father, Cleveland Sellers, who was a part of the tragic, historic event known as the Orangeburg Massacre. After graduating Morehouse College at a young age, Bakari returned to his home state and community of Denmark, SC, to become a full-fledged change agent. He is currently running for Lieutenant Governor of the state.

A resident of Denmark, South Carolina Bakari Sellers has served in the South Carolina Statehouse since 2006.  At the time of his election he was the youngest serving member of the House of Representatives, and in the years since has proven to be one of the body’s most effective leaders.

The son of civil rights leader Dr. Cleveland Sellers and Gwendolyn Sellers, Bakari learned at a young age the importance of public service.  He was Student Government Association President and a member of the Board of Trustees at Morehouse College and earned his JD from the University of South Carolina.  Sellers served as a member of the South Carolina Steering Committee of Obama for America 2007-2008.  He is a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

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