An Akron First: PROMISE Presidents

Team LeBron | 11/6/2014


PROMISE Presidents

“Can anyone tell me what biomimicry is?” No sooner than President Scott Scarborough finished his question, six tiny hands shot up from around the regal, oak crowned and oil painting lined board room. “Okay, Jamil… tell us what biomimicry is,” said President Scarborough, somewhat taken off-guard.

“Biomimicry is the design and production of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes,” Jamil proudly proclaimed. As 10 adolescent heads nodded and smiled in agreement, President Scarborough and the rest of the room sat in silent amazement. “Okay, I think I’m in a bit over my head,” joked President Scarborough. To be honest, we had no clue what biomimicry was, but LeBron’s kids sure did!

This lunch was the first time any children had lunch with a President of The University of Akron.

Having taken office only four months ago, The University of Akron’s 16th President wasted no time getting right down to meeting with Akron’s big wigs… LeBron’s Wheels for Ed and Akron I PROMISE Network students. As part of the Foundation’s monthly I PROMISE Experience Outings, 10 Wheels for Ed and Akron I PROMISE Network students were selected by Akron Public Schools to have lunch with Dr. Scott Scarborough. 

During lunch-time on November 5th, the Roo Express stopped outside of STEM Middle School to pick up President Scarborough’s VIPs. Once on campus, LAB Community and The University of Akron staff member, Christine Curry, escorted the kids to the President’s Board Room.

After handshakes, hellos, and reciting their PROMISES, President Scarborough asked his VIPs to introduce themselves and say what they would like to be when they grow up. “My name is Christian and it is an honor to be here. I want to be an astrophysicist when I grow up.” “Just an astrophysicist? The honor is all mine, Christian,” President Scarborough replied with a smile.

Amiyah wants to own her own bakery. Jamil wants to be an engineer. Kaleb wants to be a computer programmer. Maliq wants to be a baseball player, an inventor, or an artist; he wants to keep his options open. LeBron’s kids have big, but realistic, hopes and dreams.

After hearing what his VIPs want to be when they grow up, President Scarborough shared a simple message: you can be whatever you want to be and we’re all here to support you. 

While the setting was formal, President Scarborough made sure his VIPs felt at-home with a hearty meal of pasta, chicken fingers, and of course, delicious homemade brownies.

“Do you have any questions you’d like to ask me?” said President Scarborough. Boy did they ever…

The questions flowed as quickly as the chocolate milk was consumed. “What’s your favorite superhero?” asked Amiyah. “The Flash,” said President Scarborough, passionately. “How about super villain?” Jamil quickly interjected. “Oh, that’s tough… Have you guys ever seen the ‘Dark Knight’? I didn’t like the joker,” apparently, neither did our kids as they disapprovingly shook their heads. “Where did you go to elementary school?” Jamil quickly interjected again. “Just like you guys, I went to my city’s public school.”

“I PROMISE to try new things” is a tenet of the AIPN PROMISE. President Scarborough, who is four months into his tenure as the President of The University of Akron, shared his advice for trying new things: don’t be afraid to try new things; lean on your supporters for help; and believe in yourself. Making eye contact with each student, he finished poignantly, “There is nothing you can’t accomplish.”

The conversation took a more serious tone when President Scarborough was asked about the PROMISES he made that helped him become the president of a university. “There were two PROMISES I made to my grandfather my freshman year of college,” said President Scarborough who shared earlier that this was his grandfather who instilled the importance of an education in him. “The first was that I would study extra hard for my first exam, and the second was that I would come home, at least once a month, and tell my siblings and cousins about the importance of a college education.”

As dessert was served, the conversation turned to basketball. “I was this height when I was in 8th grade,” said President Scarborough, “Those were the good years!”

When Jamil brought up his sadness over the Cavs home-opener loss, President Scarborough offered a piece of advice that we hope will stay with all of our kids… “Don’t ever let a loss get you down, Jamil.” Turning to the rest of the group, President Scarborough finished by saying, “You learn more from your losses than you do from your victories.”

The kids learned a lot at their special luncheon; however, no lesson was more important than knowing that they have a passionate supporter in The University of Akron’s President, Dr. Scott Scarborough.

“It is not a matter of if, but where you will go to college.” – D. Scott Scarborough, President, The University of Akron