Student uses grant to create leadership program for black males

Wake Forest University student Jonathan Kelly is using a grant from the university’s Fund for Ethics and Leadership to create a leadership program for black male high school students.

Kelly designed the weekend retreat, “Men of Distinction: Wake Forest University Academy for Future Leaders,” for sophomores and juniors across North Carolina. It will take place Nov. 10-12 at Wake Forest. Applications must be postmarked by Sept. 30 and are available online at, or by writing to P.O. Box 7274, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27109.

Kelly, a junior, is a chemistry major and the son of Barbara and Johnny Kelly of Greensboro. He is a student member of the Wake Forest Board of Trustees.

“Men of Distinction” was designed to teach black males to realize their academic and personal potential through leadership activities and community service, said Kelly, who is black.

Kelly said the program will be offered to students from Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte, Durham, Raleigh, Fayetteville and Asheville this year. He hopes to expand the program next year to include students from other areas.

Wake Forest financially supports the program because it will help grow leadership among an underserved population in North Carolina, said Samuel T. Gladding, associate provost. “I had a mentor in high school who pushed me to excel and challenge myself,” Kelly said. “And once I got to Wake Forest, I felt very blessed and decided to give something back to students who may not already have a mentor in their lives.”

Participants will be paired with Wake Forest student volunteers. They will stay in the students’ residence halls during the program.

“Men of Distinction” will feature a mix of workshops and social activities including a banquet and tailgate party.

Workshop courses will include information about business etiquette, parliamentary procedure, interpersonal communication and time management.

Kelly recruited speakers from the university and from throughout the Triad who specialize in business, politics, medicine, ministry and computer science to lead each session.

This year’s freshman class at Wake Forest has 1,018 students. Black students make up 7 percent of that population. In the total undergraduate student population, blacks make up 8.2 percent.

For more information about “Men of Distinction,” visit or email

Categories: Student, University Announcement