When I stepped onto the campus of Morehouse College at the end of my junior year of high school in Memphis, I was faced with many of the challenges that plague the typical teenager seeking guidance on their post-secondary destination: nervousness, excitement and an insatiable sense of curiosity.
I wanted to go to a place that not only fed my mind, but also developed me into a whole person; a man who would leave with a heightened awareness of the world and with a burning desire to change it for the better. In high school, I was exposed to Morehouse Men who were doing great things in the community. They stood for something larger than themselves and they embodied the term "servant-leader".
I entered Morehouse as a freshman in the fall of 2011. During the week of New Student Orientation "NSO" – a week-long orientation for incoming freshmen – I realized that Morehouse was the place for me and that by the end of this journey, I would be a changed man.
I vividly recall freshman year sitting in the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Crown Forum listening to former Morehouse College president, Robert M. Franklin, Jr., speaking about leadership and dedication. Paraphrasing German politician and author, Goethe, President Franklin told us that "at the moment of your commitment, the universe conspires for your success."
Those words have stuck with me since that day and it was that day that I vowed to work to make Morehouse a better place. Starting my freshman year, I was afforded that opportunity. Having been elected as Junior Board Trustee, I was able to serve on the College's Board of Trustees and represent the interest of my brothers. Serving on the Board for two years afforded me an unprecedented opportunity to serve my brothers and proved to be a firm foundation and training grounds for what was to become.
Just over a week ago, I was elected as the President of the Student Body for the 2014-2015 academic year. I am humbled by the opportunity, excited about the possibilities and driven by the trust that my brothers have placed in me to fulfill this most noble duty – to give back to a place that has given me so much.
There is a quote by theologian and "Morehouse Man" Howard W. Thurman that all students at Morehouse learn upon entrance. It reads: "Over the heads of her students, Morehouse holds a crown that she challenges them to grow tall enough to wear."
I hope that I will be able to grow tall enough to wear that proverbial crown.
(Michael T. Gatewood II graduated from Germantown High School, where he was in the International Baccalaureate Program. He also participated in the NAACP Youth Council, Youth United Way and the Leadership Academy with the Links, Inc.)