By Kanya Stewart
When Markello Spivey walked into his guidance counselor’s office in a Duval County high school, he saw college banners hanging in the room. But before he could dream of attending one of those colleges, his guidance counselor told him that instead of pursuing higher education he would be more fit to pick up a trade.
Since sixth grade, Spivey was told he had a learning disability and, after being placed in special education classes, not very many people believed he was college material.
But one day, he decided to stop listening to people and listen to his heart, which was telling him that he was capable of learning and that becoming a college grad was possible. However, before his college dreams could come true, he not only had to overcome the stigma associated with being labeled as having learning inabilities but also had to overcome the hurdle of getting into college without an acceptable diploma.
The inspiration Spivey needed to jump these hurdles came in the form of a presidential election.
“I graduated (high school) in 2008, the year that Barack Obama was elected President of the United States and he was really my motivation,” Spivey said. “I looked up to him. Just by seeing him, an African-American man and leader on television, and everybody chanting ‘yes we can,’ I knew that I wanted to be just like him. And that’s when I started to develop my plan and ask myself ‘how do I get there?’”
Since Spivey was a special education student he only received a “special diploma” when he graduated high school. This type of diploma was not acceptable for college admission, so he pursued a GED in 2009 at Florida Community
College at Jacksonville. After he received his GED, he set out for an associates degree at the college and graduated with honors in 2014.
During that time, he met several mentors and FAMU alumni who encouraged him to make FAMU his next stop, due to its nurturing and scholarly environment.
He completed a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2016 and immediately began his master’s degree program while also being named one of the University’s Minority and Retirement Security
Fellows, teaching young people and members of underserved communities about financial literacy.
On May 4, Spivey, will receive his MBA from Florida A&M University and will attend the Thurgood Marshall School of Law in the fall. After law school, he has aspirations of practicing tort law, becoming a community advocate, and helping to eliminate the school to prison pipeline
“I’m so glad I decided to come to FAMU,“ said Spivey. “FAMU gave me the opportunity to reach my goals. It challenged me to be a better me and instilled in me the essential skills needed for a successful career.”
Hear more about Spivey’s story on FAMU Now, which airs on WANM-90.5 FM this Sunday, May 6, and next Wednesday, May 9, on Sirius XM Channel 142.
Photos: Adam VL Taylor/FAMU Communications