He’s been with us for a few weeks now, but here is the formal welcome for Verlando Brown, BhB’s new Special Adviser for Diversity and Outreach. His story truly is inspirational, so I’ve attached it below to share with you, dear readers. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more from him in the future, so be on the look out!
––Kate, BhB Online Editor
Verlando Brown grew up Maryland in the heart of West Baltimore. He was raised in a single-parent household where his mother was his sole caretaker, and he was her only child. Growing up in the inner city, his environment was filled with drug dealing, drug addiction, prostitution, crime, poverty, and broken families. Verlando’s mother told him as a child that she did not want him to end up in jail or dead on the streets –– she wanted him to stay in school, get a great education, and be successful. She did not want him to become like the guys on the corner who sold drugs for a living, she wanted him do better than she had been able to do with only a high school diploma.
Verlando went to Frederick Douglass High School in West Baltimore. During the time he went there, many kids were failing in their courses, and there was a high rate of drop-outs and teenage pregnancy. There were fights almost every day among the other kids and kids fighting with their teachers. The Maryland state test scores were also low.
Verlando wanted to be successful in life and not be like his peers. He thought about college, but felt unsure of himself; he didn’t think that he could get into college, much less make it through. Fortunately, his high school guidance counselor saw a lot of potential in him and encouraged him to apply. With that encouragement, Verlando applied to Towson University, was accepted, and became the first in his family to go to college. When he received his acceptance letter from Towson, he dashed home to show to it to his mother. She burst into tears of joy.
At Towson, Verlando went through a lot of challenges in learning how to adapt. It took him some time to get adjusted –– how to manage his time, how to meet professors’ expectations, and how to network on campus. Verlando struggled with low self-esteem and a learning disability while he was at Towson, but had the courage to gather a support system of people who believed in him and his capabilities. This support gave him confidence not to give up and to focus on graduating. He also struggled with his weight while he was at Towson, where, initially, he weighed close to 325 pounds. Through learning to eat healthier and concentrating on fitness, he has lost over 100 pounds. He couldn’t have done it without the help of his support system.
With his passion for higher education, Verlando is now a graduate student at the University of Baltimore obtaining his Master’s degree in Human Services Administration. He is a writer, a motivational speaker, and an advocate for students in his communities. He will be assisting BhB with work ranging from corporate structure analysis and grant seeking through contributions to the BhB blog.