Jeremy Battle’s experiences growing up in Brighton, Alabama, led him to believe in the importance and power of diversity.

Brighton, near Birmingham, is home to 3,640 residents, 89 percent of whom are African-American. Battle did not experience much diversity in high school until the summer after his junior year, when he attended a four-week college preparatory program at Stanford University.

“I loved it,” Battle says of his experience at Stanford. “Getting out and seeing what the rest of the world looked like was everything I dreamed about as a kid.”

Battle performed so well at the Stanford program that faculty members there urged him to continue his education at the university. He was accepted at Stanford and spent his first two years there before transferring to Morehouse College in Atlanta, which is the only all-male historically Black institution of high learning in America.

“I was involved with so many things at Stanford that my personal needs, as a kid from Brighton, were not being fulfilled,” Battle says. “At Morehouse, I found a greater sense of confidence and a sense of optimism that charged me to succeed.”

This spring, Battle is getting yet another experience in diversity by attending Southwestern as an exchange student. He is the first student to take advantage of the student exchange component of the Engaged Diversity project, which is sponsored by the Mellon Foundation. Morehouse and Southwestern are participants in this program, along with Dillard University in New Orleans, Huston-Tillotson University in Austin and Rhodes College in Memphis.

Battle says he has enjoyed meeting the faculty and students at Southwestern. “I have been quite wowed by the hospitality and incredible welcoming spirit that people have here,” he says.

Battle has already given back to the Southwestern community. He performed a powerful vocal solo at the Martin Luther King Community Dinner in January and is forming a contemporary gospel choir for students, faculty and staff members.

And, he is building connections between Southwestern and Morehouse by doing an independent study project that involves political science, sociology and economics faculty members from the two schools.

“I want to share with the Southwestern community who I am in every way,” Battle says. “By doing so, I believe I will accomplish the mission of the Engaged Diversity project. I think too often we get into our spacially isolated communities, and we don’t truly get to understand other folks’ cultures. I am very glad to have had this opportunity to top off my undergraduate career.”

In addition to his academic studies, Battle is working as a program specialist at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission this semester. His position involves helping the commission implement a new long-term care program for Medicaid recipients in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

After graduating this spring from Morehouse with a degree in political science, Battle plans to begin working full-time for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission before pursuing graduate studies in public policy. He hopes to attend graduate school at either Princeton or Harvard. Last summer, he participated in a program designed to prepare students for graduate work at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.


Related News & Events