What's New

A young black man in a red shirt sits on a rock while changing the string in a weedeater.

I've always been a pretty positive person. Even when things seem tough, I try to find the bright side. That's just who I am. So when I transferred to Howard in the last month of ninth grade from East Hamilton, I was determined to make the best of it. But man, starting over at a new school wasn't easy. It felt like everything was just stuck, you know? That's when I heard about the Leadership Program at LMC.

Relying on Family

At first, I wasn't sure about joining. I mean, going outside and getting paid for it sounded cool, but it wasn't exactly my thing. Then, JaMaal,

 this dude who used to be in the program, talked to me during lunch. He was like, "Yo, just join, man. It's worth it." And I thought, "Hey, getting paid to go outside? Sign me up!"

Headshot of a black teenage man with dreds in front of a forested background.

What made the program really stand out was the people. This program feels like a second family, honestly. Ms. Robyn, she's like the grandma we never knew we needed and the purple shirts are like our older siblings. JaMaal, he's been a huge influence on me, like a big brother. One time, I went through this rough breakup, and I was feeling all down and out. And JaMaal had my back, no questions asked. He's always there, whether I need a pep talk or just someone to hang with. He even made sure I was good at school, looking out for me. Learning from him, I try to do the same for the younger crew. We're tight, and it's not just within the program—we hang out outside of it too, all the time. It's like one big, loving family.

Pushing Through and Not Getting Stuck

The first tough experience I had was about a year and a half ago when we were tasked with clearing out the garden wall. It was a mess—trash, metal, you name it. To make matters worse, it had rained the day before, so the ground was thick with mud. Picture this: 93 degrees and every step felt like a struggle as our shoes kept getting stuck. It was pretty frustrating. But in that moment, seeing everyone else battling through it alongside me, I realized we were all in it together. That sense of camaraderie kicked in, and we just got to work. We pushed through, knowing we had each other's backs. And afterward, we treated ourselves to some ice cream, and since we had already done it once, we knew we could do it the next day.

The lesson of pushing through tough times and growing closer as a team has really influenced how I view teamwork among us interns. The experience with the garden wall taught me the power of sticking together and lending each other support. Knowing that everyone was putting in the same effort, I adopted this mindset of standing strong as a group. If my buddies were giving it their all, I knew I could do the same.

Teenagers on bikes pose on a wide sidewalk

This lesson hit home even more during our moments of celebration, like that epic pool party at Ms. Kathleen's place. After enduring those long hours and tough conditions, especially that crazy 12 to 14-hour workday in the pouring rain during the Shrimp Boil, unwinding and just enjoying each other's company felt extra special. That day isn't just a favorite because of the fun stuff we did, but because it represented how close we’d become. After the hurdles we’d gone through, it was nice to just celebrate each other. It reminded us that we're not just coworkers, but a family bonded because of shared victories and good times.

Success and Fulfillment

As I spent more time in the program, I started to see things differently. I used to think success was all about money, but it's more than that. 

My first job shadowing experience was at UTC, where I had the chance to meet the Dean of the School of Engineering. I had the opportunity to explore every branch of engineering they had to offer. It was a valuable experience that ultimately led me to choose civil engineering. There was something about it that just clicked for me, but I still wasn’t completely sure. I figured, why not switch things up a bit next year? That's when I decided to explore real estate.

The program set me up with this guy, Mark Hite*. He really knew his field and spent a whole day with me, dropping knowledge left and right. One thing he emphasized was that life isn't just about chasing money—it's about making a difference in the lives of others. That really resonated with me, you know? He stressed the importance of prioritizing family, faith, and finding joy in the journey, not just the destination. He showed me that true happiness comes from helping others. That really stuck with me.A young black man wearing a gray shirt and backpack smiles while working outdoors.

As for the program, it's been more than just a job for me. It's taught me so many life lessons, like how change is inevitable and it's up to us to adapt and persevere. Learning to appreciate the little things and understanding that success isn't just about the end result, but the journey itself—that's been a big takeaway for me. It's funny how sometimes it takes us months to accomplish something, but when we finally do, it's not just about the achievement, it's about the experiences and challenges we faced along the way that truly bring joy. Everything we went through as a team - the late nights, the hard work, the laughter – it all shaped me into who I am today.

Adapting to Change

Adapting to change has been a journey for me, especially when it came to figuring out my path after high school. Initially, I wasn't entirely sold on the idea of college. I was content with just

 cruising along, not really sure what I wanted to pursue. But being part of the program, surrounded by people with big dreams and aspirations, started to shift my perspective over time. I thought that maybe there’s more out there for me if I look for it.

I run track, and I’d say I’m pretty good at it. I was winning races left and right in middle school, but at one point, I tore both of my knees during a hurdles event at regionals. The road to recovery was tough, and took over a year of dedicated rehabilitation. Despite the setbacks, I refused to let my injuries define me. Even in eighth grade, with my knee issues still bothering me, I continued to compete and win.

A young man stands in the bed of a pick-up filled with bags of mulch and gives two thumbs up.

By the time high school came around, my passion for track burned brighter than ever, despite the physical hurdles I faced. Tenth grade marked another setback when I dislocated both of my pelvises during a track meet, and I had six more months of intense physical therapy. It would have been easy to give up, but I refused to let adversity dictate my future. I threw myself into training, and my efforts paid off in my junior year when I earned multiple accolades, catching the attention of college recruiters.

The University of St. Mary's in Kansas offered me a scholarship, recognizing not just my athletic potential but also my academic achievements. Their support means everything to me, especially knowing that they are willing to accommodate any potential setbacks due to my injuries. As I start this new chapter, I know that LMC has instilled in me the knowledge that setbacks are just temporary roadblocks, and with perseverance and the right support system, I can overcome any challenge. When I start my collegiate track career pursuing dual degrees in Civil Engineering and Applied Mathematics, I know that the lessons I've learned on the track and in the program will continue to guide me through life's hurdles.

It wasn't just one specific moment that triggered this change. It was more of a combination of factors, like the influence of the program and just growing up a bit. I started to see the value in investing in my education and future. JaMaal was a big inspiration for me. When he left for college, I felt a mix of emotions, but his encouragement kinda nudged me towards considering college too. He showed me that it's possible to achieve your dreams, no matter where you come from.

The Way Forward

As the new interns come into the program, what excites me the most is seeing how they'll grow and evolve. If I could give them just one piece of advice for navigating their time here and beyond, it would be to fully embrace the sense of community and support that LMC provides. Our program isn't just about clocking in and learning new stuff—it's about being part of a tight-knit family. Because in the end, success in this program—and life—is just as much about the connections we build as it is about the skills we pick up along the way.

Now, as I look ahead, I'm excited for what the future holds. I've learned so much from my time at LMC – about teamwork, perseverance, and the importance of giving back. And I know I'll carry these lessons with me wherever I go. 


*LMC is so thankful for Mark Hite, and we remember him with fondness and appreciation. Mark had a huge impact on the interns, allowing many of them to job shadow with him. He won a philanthropy award in 2023 and passed away just a few months later, at the beginning of 2024. We will always be tremendously grateful for his influence on The Howard School Leadership Program interns through the example he led in his life. You can read Mark Hite's obituary here.