March 27, 2012 — Coral Gables — The evening’s more than 120 attendees chuckled as the featured alumni speaker confessed that as a kid growing up in Homestead, Florida, he had a big head, big feet, and a small body. Back then, he added, when he told people his dream—to play football—they laughed at him outright.
But Micheal Barrow, a 1993 alumnus of the University of Miami School of Business Administration, made sure they weren’t laughing long.
Not only did he build his muscles, he earned a scholarship to the University of Miami, played for the ’Canes, and earned his degree before joining the Houston Oilers in 1992 and becoming at one point “the second highest paid linebacker in NFL history.”
On Thursday night, during the UM Black Alumni Society & Woodson Williams Marshall Association 2012 Scholarship Reception at the Newman Alumni Center, Barrow explained how he went from being a taunted teen with a big dream and potential (“a French word for ‘you haven’t done anything yet,’” he quipped) to a UM Sports Hall of Famer and one of the three former Hurricanes now on the UM football coaching staff.
“One of the things I learned at the University of Miami is how to fulfill my dream,” he told the audience, which included 19 of the evening’s 20 scholarship recipients. Barrow, whom President Donna E. Shalala introduced as “one of the nicest UM graduates I’ve ever met, a bit of a character, and smart as a whip,” summed up his path with one word. “To fulfill your dream you’ve got to be dedicated,” he said.
He acknowledged that isn’t always easy, admitting that practice was so hard one day back at UM that he stumbled and then faked an injury just to catch a breath. But he soon learned to endure the 90-degree heat and “eliminate excuses.” What helped was seeing others at UM around him who came from similar backgrounds, including single-parent households like his, who were also making it.
“I overcame, I conquered, I achieved success,” he told the high-achieving students before him. “People are leaving clues to success all around you. You have to be like Sherlock Holmes. And your determination is the fuel to your engine.”
The students beamed with pride as they were called up to the stage one by one to accept their awards, which ranged from several $500 Dr. Robert Moore Book Scholarships to a $10,000 scholarship from the Woodson Williams Marshall Association.
The scholarships, an eight-year-old joint initiative of the UM Black Alumni Society and the Woodson Williams Marshall Association, this year gave a combined total of $53,000 to help these undergraduate students complete their UM education.
As William S. Green, senior vice provost and dean of undergraduate education, pointed out in his remarks, these prestigious scholarships mark a celebration of excellence at the University of Miami. “Reason thrives on diversity,” he said. “Homogeneity makes us dumb, lazy, and smug. Because of you, UM becomes a smarter and smarter place.”
Also involved in the proceedings were professor of history and Africana Studies program director Edmund Abaka, president of the Woodson Williams Marshall Association; Robert Moore, assistant provost of undergraduate education; Phyllis Tyler, president of the UM Black Alumni Society; and scholarship selection committee members Renée Dickens Callan, director of Multicultural Student Affairs, alumni programs director Cynthia Cochran, visiting professor in Kinesiology and Sport Sciences Tywan Martin, and associate professor of journalism Tsitsi Wakhisi. Family of the scholarship recipients, donors, and other UM faculty and staff were in attendance as well.
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