Black Excellence: This Black Man Received His Doctorate After Expulsion From 10 Schools

by Duke Magazine

The pursuit of higher education degree often than not has a different narrative for everyone. One man was able to beat all of the odds from his upbringing and is now celebrating earning his doctorate.

Dr. Tommie Mabry grew to be expelled from 10 different schools all before gaining an admission into high school. Fast forward to December 2019, he was able to celebrate a huge milestone by obtaining his doctorate after a tedious journey of academic pursuit.

“My mom and dad [have] all my books in their house, they’re proud and they’ve come to all my graduations. Hopefully, if God says the same, they will be there at my Ph.D. graduation in December,” Mabry told Because Of Them We Can. “My mom said she didn’t think I would make it and now [I’m] the only doctor she knows.”

Mabry credits playing basketball for giving him direction and providing him more opportunities at a better life leading him to pursue college. “I start playing basketball, and Tupac’s lawyer, Chokwe Lumumba, he took me on the road with him and exposed me to AAU Basketball. I credit AAU for saving my life,” Mabry said.

“Going on the road with him, I was able to see other ballplayers from other states that were dreaming big…They were telling me they wanted to go to Duke and play for North Carolina; I said, wait a minute, y’all dream different. I started to think I could do it.”

Today, Mabry is also an author and offers professional development workshops to help others on their own journeys to pursuing their goals. Mabry says it is critical to instill the value of an education in youth early and teach them those necessary skills at an early age. “We punish our kids for the ignorance we showed them. Our kids lack knowledge and reasoning skills. Reasoning skills are taking information and applying it; you shouldn’t be learning reasoning skills when they hit that gavel and put you way,” Mabry added.

“A lot of our kids are locked up based on the ignorant principals we showed them. Look at where they are and who’s around them. Sure, there may be doctors and lawyers coming from their neighborhoods, but they don’t ever stay there when they ‘make it.’ Kids learn off of observational learning, not because you told them. They learn from models and what we’re showing them is ignorance. If you want kids to value life, you gotta give them life.”

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