ST. PETERSBURG — Kendrick Gray, Jr. decided not to be a statistic.
Being a young African-American man in today’s society comes with its difficulties and challenges. Often time, young men have to deal with the stereotypes that accompany their race, skin color, hair texture and hairstyle.
Kendrick refused to adhere to the stereotypes of what society thinks a young black man is. He remains humble while hurdling over any obstacles that come his way.
“My personal life statement is ‘change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time,’” said Kendrick. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek!”
The son of Donnebra McClendon-Gray and Kendrick Gray Sr., he pushed to overcome and prove that he is like no other. Although he played basketball for The Boca Ciega High School, he was also on the swim team. A different view of what a black male from south St. Petersburg looks like.
The irony is that African Americans are strong swimmers and spend a lot of time at the pool. There is scholarship money available; sadly, few will join the high school team.
In the community, he is a member of the Pathfinders, a mentoring program affiliated with Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, volunteers with We Feed the Hungry and has been involved with 5,000 Role Models.
Throughout his high school career, he participated in many activities that not only exposed him to different experiences but introduced him to people that can help later on in life. Between maintaining his academic life, social life and work life, it’s no wonder that Kendrick had a challenge with managing time.
“I struggled with figuring out how to manage my time between school and sports. When I learned to finish as much schoolwork during the school day, I found it easier to have time for other things,” stated Kendrick.
The greatest challenge may have been making sure his grades stayed above what his mother expected. She made it clear that she isn’t a “C” parent, so he could not be a “C” student.
Motivated by his mother’s message and his father’s mentoring, Kendrick learned how to work hard and live up to parents’ expectations.
Instead of becoming a statistic, Kendrick left high school with a 3.67 weighted GPA and was inducted into the National Honor Society.
Instead of falling victim to the young black male stereotype of great athlete/bad student, he found ways to make time for academics and excelled at both.
By using his strength, faith and wisdom, he is pushing past the expected and working towards the unexpected. After all, he is the change that he seeks.
Kendrick will attend St. Leo University in the fall and major in biomedical science. He plans to attend Morehouse College of Medicine after acquiring his undergraduate degree. In 10 years, Kendrick sees himself starting his residency as an orthopedic surgeon.