On Wednesday evenings most students at Kent-Meridian High School have gone home for the day. The teachers have left their classrooms, the athletes and coaches have departed from the halls—you’d think the custodial crew would be the only people left. But a few male students remain, sitting in a classroom, discussing their goals, passions, and where they think their life is going. Joining them, their leader, Kendrick Glover, ’08, the founder of the program the boys are participating in: Glover Empower Mentoring. Kendrick is here every Wednesday night with the goal of ensuring each boy in his mentoring program graduates from high school—because Kendrick wants the boys to learn from his mistakes.
Sixteen years ago, Kendrick was tried as an adult in Mississippi and sent to prison. He thought he wouldn’t graduate high school, he thought he wouldn’t have a job—ultimately, he thought his life was over. Yet in 2008, he was walking across the stage at Seattle University’s commencement ceremony and receiving his B.A. in Criminal Justice.
So how has Kendrick transformed from inmate to PhD candidate and mentor? A big part of the answer lies in a phone call from his aunt in Seattle.
Kendrick spent his years in prison working on his G.E.D. and his time after working on a B.A. at Jackson State University. Kendrick’s JSU career ended when he reverted to the same lifestyle that led to his incarceration and was told by school administration that he would not be returning to school. But then his aunt in Seattle gave him a call, found out he wasn’t in school and purchased him a bus ticket. Kendrick was coming to Seattle, whether he wanted to or not.
But what initially felt like a loss of autonomy became a chance for Kendrick to reinvent himself. “Now what am I going to do? I need to dig deep and find myself,” Kendrick reflects on the experience. And that meant returning to higher education. “[I chose Seattle U because] it had Seattle in its name,” Kendrick explains with a laugh. Seattle U’s downtown environment and true reflection of Seattle culture made it the perfect way for him to experience his new home, and the small class sizes encouraged him to dig deeper and plan his future.
At his graduation in 2008, family visited from all over the country to “see it to believe it.” While it was incredible for them, Kendrick was perhaps the most amazed of all: he finally had confirmation that prison wouldn’t hold him back. The forward momentum continued as he received his Master’s in Education from City University, interned for King County City Councilmember Larry Gossett, and started mentoring students at various high schools through the Police Activities League (PAL) run by the King County Sherriff’s Office.
In 2014, after various mentoring programs he had worked for fell through, Kendrick worked with his friend Sylvester Craft to establish Glover Empower Mentoring. GEM is a permanent mentoring program open to boys in need from age 13 to 21, working frequently with boys of African American and Latino descent. Kendrick says he focuses on creating relationships with the mentees that are “sustainable and impactful… I hope to be an inspiration [to them].”
Kendrick believes that many of his accomplishments are owed to his experience at Seattle University. “When I got to Seattle U, it all changed,” Kendrick explained, “[SU] gives you the opportunity to find out who you are.” And for Kendrick, finding himself meant focusing not just on academics, but on the social and emotional sides of himself. One of his biggest supporters on this journey was now-retired Fr. Kelliher, S.J., a Criminal Justice professor who never lost faith in Kendrick: “It helped to have someone believe in you that much.”
Now, Kendrick is focused on providing hope for his mentees, helping the community, and dedicating himself to his family. When the Kent Reporter recently honored Kendrick as their Person of the Year 2015, it was, “Confirmation that what I’m doing is right.” But most of all, the recognition wasn’t all about his success: “[It’s] not just about me, it’s about the community…and it’s truly an honor.”
Written by Miranda Benson, '17