BE Modern Man is an integrative program that honors the essence, image, and accomplishments of today’s man of color. With features of today’s leaders, executives, creatives, students, politicians, entrepreneurs, professionals, and agents of change—these men share the common thread of creating a new normal while setting the bar in tech, art, philanthropy, business, and beyond. The BE Modern Man is making a positive impact, his way, and has a story to tell.
BE MODERN MAN HENRY KECULAH JR.
Profession: College & Career Readiness Specialist
One Word That Describes You: Passionate
What does being one of the BE Modern Man 100 Honorees mean to you?
It’s a huge honor and an amazing feeling to me, because being named a BE Modern Man Honoree is proof that the work I am doing is changing individuals’ lives.
What is your “Extraordinary Impact?”
I make it my mission to ensure that students who want to go to college or enroll in a post-high school technical program, have the funding and skills they need to earn their degree in a timely manner. High schools in America tend to average one counselor for every 475 students. So I do my part to ensure that the students I work with have a game plan once they leave high school and discover their purpose in life, so they can pursue a career they are passionate about.
What are you doing as a BEMM to help support black male achievement now or in the future?
I assist students in my community from grades 6 on through college with finding their purpose in life. I also help them locate the financial resources they’ll need to help further their education.
What are some examples of how you have turned struggle into success?
Everything about my upbringing was supposed to destine me for failure. I saw a lot of peers growing up end up in prison or killed. And in high school, I failed six classes. But I wanted to be better than my circumstances. So I turned it around, got accepted to college, and earned a 4.0 GPA in my freshman year at a university. Despite coming from a household that had an annual income of under $25,000, I excelled academically and went on to graduate from college within four years. I considered my model a blueprint of sorts for others in my community to find their own way out, as well. That inspired me to create my company, 4.0 GPA L.L.C., and curate a curriculum for students that helps them win scholarships and earn their degree, whether that’s with a four-year college or technical program. The rest is history.
(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Henry Keculah Jr.)
What is an important quality you look for in your relationships with others?
Ambition. I like to work with people who are never content with the status quo and who share my own personal goal of wanting to get better every day.
What are some immediate projects you are working on?
I am currently curating a college tour for underserved students that will take place next March. In my entire childhood, I had never had an opportunity to go on a college tour, and that is still the case for many students, who often don’t even get to step foot on a college campus for the first time until they’re 18. But you change a kid’s mindset when you show them that their dreams ARE possible. So I’ve partnered with Rayzor Sharp Community Development Foundation to take K-12 students on a college tour at the University of Texas at Austin. I’m also putting together a rigorous college and career readiness accelerator for select students, as well.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
“Patience is a virtue.”
What advice you have for other men who want to make a difference?
Find solutions for the problems that have impacted you personally. You can have the same huge impact that LeBron James has, regardless of how much money you have in your bank account, so long as your motivation comes from the heart. Find out when schools in your city are holding career day and volunteer as a speaker. If you’re a barber, make sure there’s at least one working computer and college and career-readiness materials available in your barbershop for your school-age clients. Additionally, you can let the students that are there waiting for their haircut know that they could learn something by reading up on colleges and applying for their ACT or SAT test. Coaches should have their student-athletes do five ACT/SAT practice questions on the way to or from games, or even before practice for the day. You can even go out and coach a team for yourself, or start a nonprofit that directly tackles that problem you’re trying to change. Lastly, know that even if you impact only one kid, you made a difference—because that one kid may go on and impact thousands more, just because YOU put the keys in their hands.
It’s our normal to be extraordinary. Follow @BEModernMan and join the conversation using #BEModernMan.
Come celebrate the BE Modern Man 100 Men of Distinction at the 2nd Annual Black Men XCEL, Aug. 29–Sept. 2, 2018, at PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.