Morehouse Man Forges His Own Path As A Community Leader 

Date Released: May 13, 2017

By D. Aileen Dodd

Demarius Brinkley of Madison, Ga. has something to prove to himself and to the one man he idolized for giving him everything. His sense of humor, his brown eyes, his command of a room.

He was in elementary school when his parents divorced. His dad eventually went his own way.

Brinkley vowed to be a man who made better choices. On May 21, the senior class president with a double major in political science and philosophy will graduate from Morehouse College as a Morehouse Man with two degrees.

“I feel so blessed,” Brinkley said. “I almost didn’t make it to Morehouse. When I applied for a full scholarship, there were none available.” 

Brinkley had the grades, the ambition, and the accomplishments to be considered for the prestigious Bonner Scholar Program. It provides full-tuition to service-minded scholars with leadership potential 

He grew up in the embrace of a small town south of Atlanta with one high school.  Brinkley is the second oldest of four siblings raised by a single-mother and extended family. His grandmother ran a soul food restaurant. His father missed birthdays.

The weight of it all pushed Brinkley in another direction: He became an over-achiever. He began pushing himself to work past exhaustion in his classes and in the community. Brinkley also founded a neighborhood clean-up initiative in his city and volunteered on the Governance Council and Education Advisory committees of the Madison County Board of Education.

At Madison High, he rose through the political ranks and was looked up to as a role model for the senior class.“I was one of the few blacks who attended that high school and one of the few in the graduating class,” he said.

Brinkley almost gave up hope about getting into Morehouse senior year. The scholarship he needed to fund his tuition wasn’t available. He was planning to attend Emory University’s Oxford College instead when the phone rang and a Morehouse administrator told him that he would get the Bonner Scholarship. A scholarship had come available.

Brinkley was overjoyed. “I wanted to go to a college with an intimate setting and a small campus that reflected the community I’m from,” Brinkley said. “Morehouse had a lot to offer me in terms of leadership and character development.”

When Brinkley got to Morehouse, he pushed even harder. He took challenging classes with nationally respected professors, and he applied for internships.

Brinkley found a mentor in Dean Lawrence Carter Sr., a professor of religion who oversees the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel at Morehouse. He also grew close to attorney Winfield Ward Murray, a professor who taught him constitutional law. He sought advice from his mentors on making life choices and finding a career.

“Being in a place like Morehouse, I’ve been able to embrace who I am and create an identity that I can accept - both an academic identity and a leadership identity,” he said. “That type of transformation would not have happened at any other institution.”

Brinkley said Morehouse taught him the importance of coalition-building to effect change. He was elected class president his senior year and found the students of Morehouse to be challenging and motivating as constituents.  “It’s difficult being in a leadership position alongside students who are also leaders,” he explained. “If you can lead at Morehouse College, you can lead anywhere.”

During his time at Morehouse, Brinkley landed internships at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C., and on Capitol Hill, working in the shadow of lawmakers. Brinkley was assigned to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. “I sat down with some of the most noted political minds in Washington, D.C. , and the federal government,” he said.

Then, he returned to Madison to study city government, economic development, and community planning as a fellow. His experience, he said, will help him in his next double major in graduate school. He plans to get degrees in law and business, and then, own a real estate investment company that revitalizes urban communities.

Graduation will be the starting point of a new future for Brinkley and his family.

Brinkley said his father is back in his life in time to see him become a Morehouse Man. Brinkley defines that Morehouse distinction this way: “A Morehouse Man is someone who understands the value that lies between thinking and performing and realizes that thinking is supposed to be extraordinary. When he perceives an idea, he finds ways to make it happen in a way that impresses the world.”

He said is proud of the man that he has become, and the choices he has made. He has options.

Brinkley is entertaining job offers with Cousins Properties, a real estate investment trust company, and from state government. He has a desk waiting for him in the economic development division with the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

“That opportunity was presented because I serve on the Advisory Council for the Governor of Georgia,” Brinkley said. “I am the youngest to serve on that council. I met people from the Department of Community Affairs and they understood my interest in revitalizing communities with jobs and real estate.“

More about Demarius:

Name: Demarius Vedall Brinkley

Major: Political Science & Philosophy

Hometown: Madison, Ga.

Name of professor(s) integral to my success: Dean Lawrence E. Carter Sr. – for challenging me to think on the shoulders of the beloved community and to engage work that will inspire benevolence to those who encounter me or the projects I have established. Attorney Winfield Murray and Professor Levar Smith for pressuring me to not only think, but also to partner powerful thinking with powerful work.

Name of program integral to my success: Bonner Scholar Program that paid for my education.

Senior awards: Service Leadership – Senior Class President, Top Senior Bonner Scholar

Plans After Graduation: Pursue professional and educational opportunities within the area of Real Estate Investment and Community Economic Development.

 


Last Modified: May 15, 2017, 11:05 AM, by: Kara Walker

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