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Class of 2016 Announced


On Sunday, March 1, 2015 Institute president William A. Keyes contacted eleven outstanding young men to welcome them into the class of 2016. All of them accepted the invitation to spend the next two summers in Washington, DC.

The young men expressed their sincere appreciation for the honor of being included in the Institute network, which for 12 years has attracted some of the nation’s best and brightest African American male college students. Institute scholars have been named Rhodes, Truman, Fulbright and Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars. They have earned Phi Beta Kappa and Golden Key International recognition. They have been valedictorians and student body presidents. Institute alumni have been admitted to many of the nation’s leading graduate and professional programs. This spring, the first of the Institute’s alumni will complete a PhD and the first will graduate from medical school.

Institute scholars and alumni pursue extraordinary success for reasons that are bigger than themselves. They all aspire to make a difference in their communities, our country and the world. The bios of the young men who will continue this legacy appear below:

Joel Bervell attends Yale University. The aspiring doctor is on the Neurobiology track in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology program. He is a Coca-Cola Scholar, Jackie Robinson Scholar, Ron Brown Scholar, National Achievement Scholar, and AP Scholar with Distinction, among other awards. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, he created Hugs for Ghana, a nonprofit organization that has delivered more than 6,000 packages of school supplies and $20,000 worth of sports equipment to school children in Ghana. In New Haven, he is coordinator of a local academic mentoring program that boasts a $70,000 budget. His hometown is Snohomish, Washington.

Garrett C. Fisher is pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy at Southern Methodist University, where he is a President’s Scholar. He is an Advisory Council member for the University Honors Program and a peer counselor in the Cox School of Business. He also works as a student assistant in the Office of Student Affairs. Off campus, Garrett has volunteered on local political campaigns and has interned for a Dallas County Court judge. His hometown is Irving, Texas.

Warren B. Hill is a Finance major at Hampton University, where he is a Presidential Scholar and a member of the Davy Honors College. He maintains near-perfect grades while running middle distance races for the university’s track team, where he was named the outstanding freshman last year. He also leads campus tours and organizes special events for prospective students and their families as a member of Hampton’s student recruitment team. He aspires to become a sports agent. His hometown is Cincinnati, Ohio.

Justin A. Lang attends Belmont University in his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. He is a recipient of the William Randolph Hearst Endowed Scholarship and has earned a near-perfect grade point average while pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees in Psychology and Sociology. He advises, assists, and mentors students as a Resident Assistant in a freshman dormitory.

Michael A. McMillan II is a sophomore at Vanderbilt University, where he is pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Public Policy. His minor concentrations are Corporate Strategy and Business Policy. He hopes to pursue a career in management consulting. Michael’s activities at Vanderbilt include service as a Senator in the Student Government Association. He is a native of Clarkston, Georgia.

Joshua S. Odam attends the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he participates in the multidisciplinary honors curriculum in the Commonwealth Honors College. He learned about the Institute while participating in Student Bridges, an organization whose mission is to increase college access and success for underrepresented students. Josh will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Legal Studies and plans to attend law school after graduation. He is a native of Brooklyn, New York.

Olufemi O. Olaleye aspires to work at the United Nations as a Senior Economist, which led him to major in Economic Theory at New York University. Femi graduated in the top 2% of his class at John Dewey High School in Brooklyn, New York and is building a similarly impressive record at NYU. He is a Presidential Honors Scholar and a Maurice Feinberg Scholarship recipient. He spent last fall at NYU London. While in New York, he volunteers as an organizer of the United Nations Youth Assembly.

Michael P. Richard attends Harvard University. He is preparing for a career in public service by majoring in Economics and Government. He is active in the Leadership Institute at Harvard College and the Institute of Politics. Michael was valedictorian of his high school class in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He was named a Coca-Cola Scholar, an AP Scholar with Distinction, an Alexander Hamilton Friends Scholar, a Questbridge Scholar, and a Boys Nation U. S. Senator, among other awards.

Christopher M. Shell knows the power of understanding ones history, which has inspired him to major in History at Howard University. He aspires to become a History professor. Christopher is active in the Collage of Arts and Sciences Honors Program and is a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. His hometown is New York, New York.

Dariel Vasquez is pursuing degrees in History and Sociology at Bard College. While in high school in New York City, Dariel participated in The Fellowship Initiative, a project sponsored by the J.P. Morgan Chase Foundation and directed by an Institute alumnus. While in high school, he served as a senior peer leader for Brothers on a New Direction (BOND) and during his first year of college, he created Brothers @ Bard, an organization which mentors and enriches the lives of young men of color in the neighborhoods around the campus. Dariel is preparing to work in the field of education reform.

Taylor A. Zachary grew up in the Bay Area of California. His observation of disparities between resources available to residents of cities such as Berkeley or San Francisco versus Oakland inspired in him a desire to fight for equality. Taylor is a criminal justice major at Xavier University in Ohio and hopes to become a lawyer, though his primary goal in life is to be an inspiration to others. He has served as an academic tutor for high school students and has worked as a legal intern and law clerk in Cincinnati, the city which he now calls home.

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"The Institute taught me to embrace that the gifts that I have been given are extraordinary."
– Rakim Brooks, ‘08