Lawrence Brown Makes Stillman History and Headlines
Stillman College junior Lawrence Brown has a secret. Though inquisitive friends may try to coax it out of him, he is not saying a word. Recently, he was selected to participate in the seventh annual Ford Black College Quiz, a syndicated, nationally televised game show about the contributions of African Americans. Lawrence, who is the first Stillman student to be selected to participate in the competition, traveled to Spelman College to tape the show. He competed against students from eleven other HBCUs for up to $10,000 in scholarship money.
Maybe he won. Maybe he placed. Maybe he lost. Unfortunately, Lawrence is sworn to secrecy and cannot announce the results of the game until the show has finished airing nationwide. Even the amount he won—or didn’t win—is a top secret. The Tuscaloosa News interviewed Lawrence, and ran his photo on the front page. But Lawrence told the newspaper zilch about his score.
Fortunately, in January viewers in this region of the country can begin enjoying the Jeopardy style show, which will air in four segments. In the meantime, Lawrence speaks with caution. When asked if it is difficult to keep the secret, he quickly answers, “Yes. Kind of hard.” He seems eager to move on to the next question, and carefully avoids revealing any hints about his performance.
Although he cannot discuss his score, he can tell how he felt during the competition. “I was very nervous at first, especially in the first round. I was visibly shaking but, as time went on, I chilled out,” says Lawrence, who enjoys reading CNN.com every day, and listens to NPR (National Public Radio). He is also a part of Stillman’s Honda Campus All-Star Challenge (HCASC), a quiz team that battles over subjects ranging from African American history to science and technology. When Dr. Thomas Jennings, an associate professor in Stillman’s Department of Social Sciences, asked him to apply to compete in the Ford Black College Quiz, he seized the opportunity.
“It was a no brainer. This is my sport. As far as extra-curricular activities go, this is one of the only things I do,” he explains.
While his interest in news and current events undoubtedly aided him in preparing for the competition, memorizing information from Ford’s 80-page study guide was even more helpful. Surprisingly, the guide included a great deal that Lawrence did not initially know about popular culture. And although most scholars would agree that studying about the feats of Harriet Tubman is more important than knowing Rihanna’s real name, Lawrence believes that there are great benefits to learning pop culture. “This is the culture we live in and we have to know what’s going on in the world today,” he says. “It’s important to be able to relate to people in order to understand where they are coming from and what they are interested in. It can help you to connect with others on a certain level. It’s important in the workplace and at school.”
Memorizing a vast array of information is challenging. Trying to hit your buzzer before your opponents hit theirs can be nerve wracking. Despite the stress, Lawrence enjoys all aspects of the competition. “Competing helps you academically because studying for competitions forces you to tap into knowledge you would not normally tap into. And you meet really interesting people. People exchange Twitter handles and Face Book each other. It is a great networking opportunity, and it looks good on your resume.”
He is particularly grateful that the competition highlights African American history. “It’s important to know your history, especially if it’s one that isn’t always at the forefront in history books,” he states.
Whether he won, placed or lost, he made history by being the College’s first student to participate in the Ford Black College Quiz. Whatever the outcome, the entire Stillman community will be cheering for Lawrence.
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