Meet the Class of 2020Published Friday, June 05th, 2020
The class of 2020 overcame challenges like never before. Here's a look into the resilience that five Coppin State graduates have shown and achievements they have earned.
Rev. George Carter, A Higher Calling
Perhaps the most distinguished Coppin State University (CSU) class of 2020 member is honors graduate (3.281 GPA), Reverend Evangelist George Carter, an applied psychology major and Baltimore native. Carter earned his four-year bachelor’s degree after seven years of mostly evening classes while working a day job and alternating evenings and weekends between school and working as a volunteer minister at Shiloh Baptist Church, 2100 Monroe Street in Baltimore. What most distinguishes Carter from his classmates is the fact he entered CSU as a freshman in 2013 at the age of 73. Today, at age 80, Carter is the most senior of his classmates.
“I was nervous at first about attending college because it was a very different experience for me being in classrooms surrounded by so many people so much younger than me,” said Carter. “But my presence was always accepted and even appreciated. The students would say they don’t know how I do it and that they are inspired by me. Some have even shared that I motivate them, which is interesting because they had a positive impact on me” Carter noted.
Besides his classmates, Carter said he was motived to attend school by his wife of 63 years, Beverly who is also a minister. For years Carter has served a noble cause of leading a prison ministry for his church. He said his CSU experience has given him the confidence and knowledge to better implement a higher calling. Now that school is over, Carter says he is inspired to start a transition house for former incarcerated inmates to help them assimilate back into society. The facility will serve as the base for a reentry program, providing mental, physical and spiritual healing, advice and support needed to foster a life changing impact for former inmates.
“When inmates are released, they have to think about things they haven’t thought about in years, such as what to wear for a job interview, how to apply for a job, what to say and not say in a job interview. They may have to relearn how to cook, find a place to live, transportation and find health and dental providers,” Carter noted. “Overall, we want provide a framework for providing employment opportunities and stability for the formerly incarcerated by removing barriers to successful community reintegration and by developing competencies for independent living, enabling them to be productive citizens.”
Shanika Lewis and Marshae Bazemore Mother & Daughter Achieving Together
It’s an extra special time for class of 2020 graduate Shanika Lewis -- and her daughter.
That’s because Lewis and her daughter, Marshae Bazemore, attended CSU at the same time and reached a milestone together on the same day. Lewis, 42, received her master’s degree in criminal justice and law enforcement. Bazemore, 21, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She will pursue a master’s degree in cyber security in the fall. Lewis, an Alpha Phi Sigma, criminal justice honor society member, will continue her job as a judicial clerk for District Court of Maryland, Baltimore City.
She is hopeful for career advancement now that she has her master’s degree.
“I was surprised my daughter took the same major,” said Lewis who encouraged her daughter to pursue whatever career path she wants. But it’s not surprising for anyone who takes a close look at the mother and daughter to see they have common interests and could some how find themselves in the same major. Lewis has always received fulfillment helping others. “I just feel it’s important to be kinder to others than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle,” Lewis said. That philosophy has apparently rubbed off on her daughter. They also share a similar sense of humor, similar smile and that virtuous sense of fulfillment when helping and being kind to others.
But the paths of the mother and daughter to their academic achievements were different. Bazemore began college at CSU straight out of high school, knowing right away she wanted to major in criminal science. That major probably rubbed off on Bazemore too. Lewis, however wanted to study mortuary science after high school. That changed when her son’s father was incarcerated.
“He would explain his case and talk about how the criminal justice system worked, and that piqued my interest,” Lewis said. She looked up the criminal justice studies program at Community College of Baltimore County and noticed earning a certificate was attainable. After obtaining the certificate, Lewis got a job as a civilian police report reviewer, and received promotions to her current position. Enjoying her vocation, she decided to further her education. Both mom and daughter started CSU together in 2016. Bazemore was fulltime during the day. Lewis attended fulltime evenings. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2017 and continued on taking graduate classes after work. Lewis speaks with joy when she talks about sometimes taking the same classes as her daughter. Occasionally they wore similar outfits without realizing, each accusing the other of copying.
Bazemore originally wanted to attend an HBCU outside the state of Maryland noted Lewis, who took non-credit courses at CSU for a while after high school.
“I told my daughter there is a school on North Avenue (CSU) that is as good if not better than those other schools,” Lewis said.
Nathaniel McClean, An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse
It was a toy chemistry kit received at age eight that set in motion a dream for Nathaniel McClean, 23, a CSU graduating chemistry major and honors student. But that dream faded when McClean advanced to his teen years. A St. Lucy, Barbados, native, the top industry in his homeland was tourism.
McClean thought that since tourism is the major industry in Barbados and because he had a mind and talent for management, then business and management would become his major when he enrolled in college. McClean came to Maryland when a family friend, Dr. Errol Bolden, CSU professor of social work, suggested that McClean pursue college at CSU. Bolden is also originally from Barbados.
But while at CSU, McClean took was a science class and that reignited his dream. He decided to change his major from business. He flourished in chemistry and discovered an affection, for pharmaceutical science.
“The challenge of chemistry and science was very interesting, to say the least,” McClean said, noting his undeniable love, and childhood memories of playing with his chemistry kit as a child “with all those batteries and magnets.”
McClean ultimately applied for three graduate programs in the pharmaceuticals field. He was offered academic scholarships at two, Ohio State and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. He selected the latter.
“It was a tough decision and I am humbled and grateful that those two highly-rated universities offered me scholarships to attend, but I fell in love with Maryland and I want to change and improve my community here,” McClean said. He will enter the Ph.D. program in chemistry in the fall. He wants to research and develop new pharmaceutical therapies and eventually teach pharmacy science as a professor.
Antione Brooks, Determined to Achieve
Antione Brooks, 26, business management major, didn’t give much thought to attending college when he graduated high school in 2013. That changed on a payday in 2015. Now he’s preparing to start a new job as an account/partner manager for Facebook in Austin, TX.
Back on that memorable payday, a former supportive supervisor sat Brooks down for 30 minutes to observe co-workers pick up their paychecks, while he spoke with Brooks about his talents and overcoming fears and giving his best to accomplish goals. It helped spark Brooks to formulate a new vision for his life. Brooks decided to go to college. It was a far cry from his childhood years in West Baltimore. In a CSU Talon magazine article last year, Brooks spoke about having vivid memories of his mother “skipping meals in order to feed my two younger sisters and me, doing everything in her power to maintain a roof over our heads and keep clothes on our backs.” In that article he also said “ I was exposed to so many things a child shouldn’t be exposed to.”
Brooks was primed for change. He decided he wanted more than living from paycheck to paycheck. Determined for change, he applied to CSU and was rejected twice before being admitted. Once enrolled, he became determined to achieve, and never looked back. He set high goals on getting the most out of college and worked hard at learning and refining his talents and skills. “I wanted a full college experience like I saw on television shows growing up and I wanted to develop a personal brand for myself to enhance my life,” Brooks said.
To get that full college experience of campus life including opportunities in the classroom and beyond, he decided to take on loans to afford living on campus, even though his family lived a few miles away. He became active in clubs and groups and sought internships. He interned at Kellogg’s, Under Armour, and he became a campus brand ambassador for PepsiCo.
Thanks to CSU and his personal experiences, Brooks is now ready to take his mental toughness, emotional strength and personal brand to a new level.
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