By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – August 29, 2023) – I recall it like yesterday. Standing at BWI with my family sending me off to Atlanta – I saw her cry. Honestly, it caused me to pause. Here, this giant of a mother was showing her human side. I say that jokingly. Lillie Juanita Glover had three rules. “At 18, you are leaving!”
I grew up hearing that, particularly in my teenage years. She planted that seed of purpose early on. And my father, Donald Edward Glover, along with the rest of my village – reinforced these values.
“College, military, or work – at 18, you are leaving. In the meantime, don’t bring no babies across that door and when you leave, own your house.” Those were Lillie’s words and she batted 4 for 4.
I grew up knowing that I was going to college. It wasn’t a second thought. Besides, neither Doc nor Lillie had any intention of raising a dummy. I just didn’t know which institution of higher learning I wanted to attend. Then, one day our high school counselor at Paul Laurence Dunbar Community High School, Mrs. Lillian Gundy, said pointedly to me in the office, “You look like a Morehouse man!” In 6 words, she changed my life trajectory.
While I had reviewed brochures from many colleges, she instantly sold me on Morehouse. And so, my parents would scrape together whatever they could to send me to the ‘House. I would walk where giants walked, and would be engulfed in the pursuit of academic excellence exemplified by the likes of Dr. Benjamin E. Mays, mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To say the least, they were the greatest three semesters ever.
And then Lillie caught Cancer and would soon leave us. My life had seemingly been turned upside down and I struggled to find my way. I carried a deep hurt no words can express. On one hand, I had to keep on living. On the other hand, I was sad like never before.
Ten years and six colleges later in 1983, my father and I made an agreement. I would clean up my life and he would pay for me to return to college at Coppin State. It was a college then. Today, it is a university, and it, too, holds a very special place in my heart.
After making a series of bad decisions, Coppin presented me with a second chance at the dream of finishing college. After one semester and a 3.7 GPA, I earned a Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Scholarship. I also earned an Honor’s scholarship.
The same young man who was not that long ago effectively throwing his life away to drugs was well on his way back to form. I graduated with Honors and entered Morgan State University’s graduate program in International Studies in 1996. I would complete all of my courses but the thesis was severely holding up progress. No excuses, but I wished I could have knocked that out.
Long story short, I didn’t. I got married, had a second child, and started a business. Grad school was simply not in the equation. That is, until the day I drove past Morgan and this gospel song spoke to my heart. And so, I’m back and I’ve got one thing on my mind: Walking that stage in May 2024.
If you are interested in returning to school, then do it. Wherever your school of choice is, go and apply now. And if you have gone back to school, I encourage you to attack your degree with a vengeance. People like Mary McLeod Bethune, Fannie Jackson Coppin, and Dr. Mays committed their lives to ensuring that African Americans had a shot at college. Dr. Calvin Burnett, the 32-year former president at Coppin, also exemplified the same type of love and dedication to Black academic excellence. Today, Dr. David K. Wilson, the President of Morgan State, and Dr. Anthony Jenkins, the President of Coppin State, are doing exemplary jobs leading these two Baltimore HBCUs.
For returning students like me who already have careers, today we have the best opportunity ever to go back to our academic dreams and finish what we started. Bottom line, go back and finish!