Posted May 13, 2008 – When seniors at historically Black Morehouse College graduate on Sunday, Joshua Packwood will be the first White student to give the valedictorian address in the campus’ 141-year history.
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Packwood, a 22-year-old Missourian who will graduate with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in economics, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he is happy that he chose Morehouse over such universities as Columbia, Yale and Stanford.
"I've been forced to see the world in a different perspective, that I don't think I could've gotten anywhere else," said Packwood, who was a Rhodes Scholar finalist. "None of the Ivies, no matter how large their enrollment is, no matter how many Nobel laureates they have on their faculty ... none of them could've provided me with the perspective I have now."
In February, when Robert Franklin gave his inauguration speech at the nation’s only postsecondary institution dedicated to educating Black men, he praised what Packwood represented to Morehouse.
"Josh Packwood is Morehouse," the college's president said. "He happens to be Euro-American and brings much appreciated diversity to our campus."
Wendell Marsh, a junior English and French major who is Black, said that he made up his mind about Morehouse as a high school senior after talking to Packwood.
"Right now we live in a time where people say the Black institution is obsolete, that you can get a better education at a majority institution," Marsh told the Journal-Constitution. "To see a White guy who had declined Harvard for Morehouse, I figured it was good enough for me."
Says Packwood: "I've been here for four years and yet, I cannot give you the definition of Black. I cannot tell you what a Black man is. I really learned to look much deeper. It takes a lot of effort to know people."