Mickell Lowery, a member of the Shelby County Board of Commissioners, serves on the LeMoyne-Owen College Board of Trustees.

by Mickell Lowery — 

When I was in middle school, my father, Myron Lowery, a graduate of LeMoyne-Owen College, informed me I would follow in his footsteps by attending his alma mater. He, along with many of my other family members lauded LOC and other HBCUs they attended as the best of the best and assumed I would continue the legacy.

Of course, I wanted to do the opposite of what he instructed, but by my senior year, I found myself deciding between LeMoyne-Owen College and Morehouse College in Atlanta. LOC basketball coach, Jerry C. Johnson, the sports legend who recently celebrated his 102nd birthday, awarded me a full-ride basketball scholarship to LeMoyne-Owen, a more robust offer than the one from Morehouse.

Rather than attend school in Atlanta, I chose the city where I was born, Memphis. Choosing LOC was the best decision I could have made.

Today’s students on college campuses have extremely high expectations for their universities and surrounding communities and are actively engaged in pushing for transformation. During my time at LOC (1995-2000), we were no different. We wanted new dorms on campus and more activities for students.

There were plans to revitalize the area surrounding LOC with the development of College Park and other community enhancements. We knew that South Memphis was on the horizon of a breakthrough, and we wanted to be a part of it. We were given the opportunity to have our voices heard because of leaders and staff at LOC.

While attending LOC, I became involved in various activities on campus. I served as Student Government Association president, which was foundational in my taking on leadership roles to become a change agent in the city. My experience working in student government put me in rooms with community and city leaders where I was exposed to the process of advocating for change and executing with fidelity. LeMoyne-Owen College gave me a seat at the table.

Even if you are not a member of the Student Government Association, LeMoyne-Owen continues to provide students with tools through internships, key educational and professional connections that allows students to actively participate in the issues that are affecting our school and the community. What LOC does extraordinarily well is connect you to the community in which it exists, because they understand it is impossible to be in the community and not be of it.

Since my transition from student to alumnus 20 years ago, I’ve kept my commitment to LeMoyne-Owen by giving back as it has given to me. I currently serve as the Shelby County Commissioner for the area in which LeMoyne-Owen College is located, but I am also a former president of the National Alumni Association and a current member of the Board of Trustees.

I am proud that in addition to engaging alumni and students around the Magic of LeMoyne-Owen College, along with fellow commissioners, we were able to provide funds to the College for IT needs during the pandemic to increase the technology infrastructure and equip the students with the tools needed to promote learning from any location.

The rich legacy of HBCUs cannot be overstated. They produce the highest number of Black physicians, attorneys, engineers and STEM graduates nationwide. The responsibility is ours to ensure that our students are always supported during their matriculation at LeMoyne-Owen College.

I am excited about the increased awareness around HBCUs. They will produce the next generation of leaders for our communities, something for which my beloved alma mater has a proven record. The spotlight is on and the future is bright. Let us continue to shine the light on our institutions and the students who will call them home.


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