Shahem McLaurin, 19, a resident of Curley St. and a graduate of Friendship Academy of Science and Technology, is still trying to decide whether to study biology or political science.
For McLaurin, politics equals fun.
“I was always that boring little kid that sat in the house watching presidential debates and stuff,” he said, adding that he got very involved in politics as a student at FAST.
“Ever since I came to FAST, I’ve been involved in student culture,” he said, “making it better and building it up.”
But biology is fascinating, too, and could lead to quick, secure and viable employment.
McLaurin is involved with the National Aquarium’s Henry Hall Program, a special program for students interested in the life sciences and the environment.
“I’ve learned a lot about different creatures and how they build up a whole ecosystem and help people,” McLaurin said. “That’s amazing to be able to use that stuff to help people.
For a driven and inquisitive young man, choosing a major is a tough decision, but least he won’t have to figure out how to pay for his education. Mclaurin has been chosen to receive an $80,000 scholarship from Legg Mason through the Baltimore Community Foundation.
“These young adults have worked so hard to get where they are,” said Auburn Bell, Legg Mason’s Director of Corporate Philanthropy. “In a lot of situations, they’ve overcome incredibly difficult personal challenges to get there.”
Auburn added that “it’s really important for leadership to stand up with these kids and walk with them.”
Last week, McLaurin and and the 60 other Maryland students who earned BCF scholarships were honored for their achievements at a Ravens-sponsored luncheon and ceremony at M & T Bank Stadium.
Retired Ravens kicker Matt Stover urged the youngsters to seize the opportunities they had been given, with a caveat:
“Don’t let it be just about you,” he said. “There’s no purpose in serving yourself, but there’s purpose in serving others.”
Stover, whose outdoor field goal percentage of 84.9 is the highest in NFL history, said that before he came to this realization, fear of failure was “paralyzing.”
“Oh my gosh, what will happen if I miss?” said Stover. “It took a lot of work, it took a lot of time, and it took a lot of failure to wake up my eyes and see that this opportunity wasn’t about all me.”
Once he started focusing on his teammates, Stover said, his “kicking really took off,” and “a 51-yard field goal became an opportunity.”
Stover offered a quote from Thomas Edison: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
McLaurin will work through the summer at the Canton Safeway before leaving for St. Mary’s College. In his spare time, perhaps he’ll re-read Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, which he recommends to everyone because “it’s just the best series ever,” or he may head out to the movies with friends.
McLaurin is proud to graduate from FAST. “I just wanted to reiterate that there are students at FAST that do good things for the community,” he said.
by Erik Zygmont