Awesomeness: Texas Teen Gets Accepted To All 20 Colleges He Applied To With Full Ride

The college acceptance phase of life can be nerve-wracking.

I was lucky. Back when I was applying to schools, I hit up three – SMU, TCU and Syracuse University – and was accepted at all three. I had decent grades, a good SAT and the theater departments I auditioned for – fortunately – wanted me.

p.s. I went to SU because it had the best musical theatre program in the country at the time.

But here’s an amazing story.

Houston high school student Michael Brown was accepted and given full scholarships to all 20 colleges he applied to.

The high point, though, was when hit top pick – Stanford University – sent their full ride acceptance letter.

From The New York Post;

The 17-year-old from Houston said he didn’t anticipate so many acceptances and remains in shock.

“I was certainly nervous,” Brown told news station KHOU. “I study a considerable amount I think.”

Brown, a Lamar High School student, said that several Ivy League schools, including Harvard, Yale, University of Pennsylvania and Princeton, are among his top choices, according to KHOU.

The teen also has his pick of colleges such as Stanford, Northwestern, Georgetown, Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins. He has until May 1 to make his decision.

When applying to schools, Brown boasted a 4.68 GPA and listed extracurricular activities such as the debate team and Young Democrats.

Brown, who grew up in the low-income neighborhood Third Ward, said he encourages others to not let their circumstances prevent them from working toward their dreams.

“Be helpful. Dream big. Don’t be afraid,” Brown told KHOU. “Be proud of your family, love yourself, love your community and then share your story. Inspire other people to really reach for the stars and achieve their dreams.”

Throwback Thursday: “That Cheerleader Accident” At Syracuse University 35 Years Ago

Me top of the pic center as a college cheerleader at Syracuse University in 1982
right after cheerleading accident on national TV

My college cheerleading buddy, Ken Fischer, pointed out that an early national news story in my life happened 35 years ago today. The story was run today as a #ThrowbackThursday item on

Syracuse versus Georgetown basketball games in the 1980s were always must-see events.

The game between the Orange and the Hoyas on Jan. 17, 1982 was another highly anticipated matchup between the teams. Georgetown was ranked seventh in the nation and had won 13 games in a row.

The game was shown nationally on NBC with Syracuse alum Bob Costas on the call.

When it was over, though, few were talking about Syracuse’s 75-70 upset win, or the second largest crowd ever to see a college game.

Instead, a cheerleader’s fall and her agonizing scream was what was remembered.

The Syracuse cheerleaders had gone out onto the court after the game’s first timeout and formed a human pyramid, three bodies high. When 5-foot-1-inch Michelle Munn, from Sayre, Pennsylvania, flipped from the top, no one was there to break her fall.

She landed on her head, and the large crowd hushed.

Post-Standard reporter Mark Wallinger wrote that all “that could be heard was the hum of the electrical fan keeping the Teflon dome inflated and Michelle’s wails and screams.”

The cheerleaders had practiced the stunt – called a Swedish Roll – for about three weeks, but it was the first time they had attempted it in public.

Later, cheerleaders speculated that Munn may have miscalculated her jump because of the noise of the loud crowd, starting her count too early before her spotter was in position.

Paramedics at the game rushed the engineering major and cheerleading co-captain, to Crouse-Irving Memorial Hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured skull.

Her parents rushed to join her, as did her fiance, who was watching the game on TV from her apartment.

She was listed in satisfactory condition.

Forty minutes after the accident, the Dome crowd was informed that Munn was in “very stable condition,” which brought a loud cheer.

Munn returned to campus a couple of weeks later.

She said she did not know what went wrong with the stunt, and said she could not recall much about the accident.

“I vaguely remember crashing into something, but nothing’s very clear,” she told the newspaper.

Despite headaches and backaches she was able to return to class but had no idea when she could rejoin the cheerleading squad.

She would hesitate “only a moment” before attempting the pyramid stunt again, and disagreed with some calling for it to be banned.

She said,”Every sport is going to have some risk to it.”

My cheerleading partner, Lisa, in mid-air during the accident

I remember exactly what happened: we had been doing the pyramid called a “Swedish Roll” for some time. Two sets of shoulder stand with a girl held like a beam parallel to the floor. The two girls were my partner, Lisa, and Michelle. They would hit the position, with one leg lifted, then Michelle would call “roll” and the girls would drop into the arms of guys waiting below.

A new element we had just incorporated was two guys flipping under the towers via mini trampolines before the “roll.” Nothing dangerous, basically a dive roll and then the girls would dismount as usual. But it was the first timeout with a huge crowd playing Georgetown, big rival, adrenaline rushing as we hit the court.

We did the pyramid like we had done, but before the guys could flip, Michelle (who was one of the squad captains) looked at Lisa and yelled “one, two, roll!’ As Lisa tried to stop her from going, Michelle went, and hit Reed (who was in mid-air flipping) on her way down. Because she went early and the mini tramp was still there, no one was in place to catch her.

The whole thing led to a big national debate about cheering safety.

It’s amazing to me that all the details from that moment are so clear in memory today, 35 years later.

Canadian College Professor Fired For Posting “Queers” Should Be Hanged

Click image to enlarge

Edge Media reports that a Canadian college professor was fired this week after he allegedly made a violent and anti-gay Facebook comment, officials announced Wednesday, according to the CBC.

Officials from St. Lawrence College said they received a complaint about business professor Rick Coupland, regarding a Facebook comment he allegedly made. The school’s spokeswoman said the comment was “deeply concerning.”

Screen shots of Coupland’s alleged post made their way on social media and shows him sharing a link to a story about a rainbow flag being raised in St. Petersburg, Fla., with his added comment: “It’s the queers they should be hanging, not the flag.”

According to Gay Star News, it was a former student who made the complaint to the college and posted screenshots of the comments to social media. The website also notes that Coupland later updated his status saying, “I have to get off Facebook for awhile. I’ve been called into work and told to bring a representative re: my comments on FB. Please pray for me and my job…”

The CBC reports the teacher’s Facebook profile has been deleted.

St. Lawrence College said Coupland’s remarks do not reflect the school’s values, noting it has a strict policy regarding the conduct of its employees. On Wednesday, the school confirmed that it had fired the professor.

Viral Video: Oklahoma Fraternity Shut Down Over Racist Chant

The national office of Sigma Alpha Epsilon shut down a chapter at the University of Oklahoma when a video surfaced that showed members singing a racist chant:


University of Oklahoma president Boren issued this statement on the scandal:

“To those who have misused their free speech in such a reprehensible way, I have a message for you. You are disgraceful.

“You have violated all that we stand for. You should not have the privilege of calling yourselves ‘Sooners.’ Real Sooners are not racist. Real Sooners are not bigots. Real Sooners believe in equal opportunity. Real Sooners treat all people with respect. Real Sooners love each other and take care of each other like family members.

“All of us will redouble our efforts to create the strongest sense of family and community,” Boren added. “We vow that we will be an example to the entire country of how to deal with this issue. There must be zero tolerance for racism everywhere in our nation.”

The members of SAE at OU were given until Tuesday night at midnight to gather their belongings and get out. Boren added that he doesn’t plan on helping the displaced residents find housing.

“That’s not our responsibility,” he said. “We don’t provide student services to bigots.” He added that he’d offer to pay the student’s busfare if it would help them leave the community faster.

The national SAE organization had this to say:

“We apologize for the unacceptable and racist behavior of the individuals in the video, and we are disgusted that any member would act in such a way,” the online statement read. “Furthermore, we are embarrassed by this video and offer our empathy not only to anyone outside the organization who is offended but also to our brothers who come from a wide range of backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities.”

I’m curious if anyone has identified any particular student in the video, and if so, what they might have to say on the incident. I always have a passing interest in how bigots justify their positions and behavior.

Tyler Oakley chats with First Lady Michelle Obama on The Reach Higher Initiative

LGBT YouTube star Tyler Oakley chats with First Lady Michelle Obama about The Reach Higher Initiative.

The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university.

“Education is the key to success for so many kids. And my goal specifically is to reach out directly to young people and encourage them to take charge of their futures and complete an education beyond high school.” – First Lady Michelle Obama, January 16, 2014

Video: University of Kentucky cheerleading

Both my husband Michael and I were college cheerleaders. The couple in the video below is uber-impressive.

I should add about my cheerleading career that my dad, who was an amazing athlete his entire life, loved that I FINALLY got involved in something athletic when cheerleading came along for me. My senior year in high school, male cheerleaders were added to the squad. And it was something that I naturally excelled at. I really enjoyed the performance aspect, I guess.

When I got to Syracuse University my freshman year, I happened to wander into the college gym where the cheerleaders were practicing. I watched for a while, waxing nostalgic, and at some point someone from the squad said ‘hello.’ Although SU usually didn’t have freshman cheerleaders, they had just lost one of their guys to who got a rare spot at the Ringling Bros/Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown school – and off he had gone. So, out of luck, I was recruited and began my college cheering career.

 I had some great times being a part of that squad. And it led to great friendships, and my pledging Sigma Chi fraternity. (That is a story we’ll leave for another time…)

In any case, check out these two below. They rock.

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Hey old friend, here’s to us, who’s like us? Damn few…

With my “old friend” Jeff Williams

“Hey old friend, what do you say, old friend….”

I had a fab lunch/reunion with my fellow Syracuse University alum Jeff Williams today here in Las Vegas as he’s about to open in the Nevada Conservatory Theatre production of “Seminar” – a play by  Pulitzer Prize winner Theresa Rebeck.

From the Nevada Conservatory Theatre website:

A provocative comedy from Pulitzer Prize nominee Theresa Rebeck, which appeared on Broadway in 2011 with Alan Rickman originating the lead role.

In Seminar, four aspiring young novelists sign up for private writing classes with Leonard, an international literary figure. Under his recklessly brilliant and unorthodox instruction, some thrive and others flounder, alliances are made and broken, sex is used as a weapon and hearts are unmoored.

The wordplay is not the only thing that turns vicious as innocence collides with experience in this biting Broadway comedy.

Jeff is a veteran of several Broadway productions (Susan Stroman’s The Music Man; Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; The Pirate Queen) and national touring companies (The Will Rogers Follies; Me and My Girl).  NCT is lucky to have him.

I’m seeing his performance Saturday night and can’t wait. I love to see old friends doing well.  (I had a talent for hanging out with the talented kids in college. I hoped it would rub off….)

College life builds friendships on the foundations of stress, pressure, stress, celebration, stress, youth…  and did I mention stress?  Jeff and I ran in the same crowd back in the day.  He’s always been a talent to be reckoned with, and no matter how many years go by we know we did this “college thing” together. 

One of my few regrets from my college days was being cast in a production of Sondheim’s Merrily We Roll Along and not being able to do it.  Jeff was cast as the lead – “Franklin Shepard” and I was to play his best friend “Charley.”  I always remember watching Jeff on his opening night, thinking how fantastic he was in the role, and how I wish I had been onstage with him for that journey.  In theater, we really don’t think about roles as a job – they are, in and of themselves, “a journey.”  I can’t think of the show today without that crossing my mind.

Life goes on, but we remember the things that “got away.”

In our early NYC days, Jeff and Carlye and I saw each other a lot.  But often, it seemed just as I would finish a national tour gig, he’d be heading out on a new one.  He’d come back to NYC and I’d be heading out on tour again.  Time goes by, life moves us on, but if you’ve lived some life with someone, when you see them next it’s as if time stood still.

Sending best thoughts to my fellow “Orangeman” on his opening night.

As Sondheim wrote:

“Most friends fade
Or they don’t make the grade
New ones are quickly made
And in a pinch, sure, they’ll do
But us old friend what’s to discuss old friend?
Here’s to us,
Who’s like us?
Damn few.”

Conner Mertens becomes the first active college football player to come out

Conner Mertens

College football player Conner Mertens, of the Willamette University football team, last night came out to the world in a letter he posted to his Twitter account.

The letter was directed to his small hometown of Kennewick, Washington.

“You are not alone. You do not need to come out but you do need to know that you do not have to go at this by yourself. The aloneness you’re feeling is temporary and it will get better. This place is changing…changing for the better. I made the decision that if I could prevent one person from feeling that self-hatred, loneliness, desperation and a thousand other emotions that I felt, I would. I will be damned if I let anyone tell you that you are wrong or weird or not normal.

“Love yourself and allow others to love you. Be who you are and know you’re not alone.”

Before the tweet, Conner shared the letter with his team in a meeting last night.

The letter was printed and placed on desks facing down.  At the same time, the players all turned the page and read in silence.

The response?  From OutSports:

One by one the players shared what was on their minds. At one point, one of the bigger guys on the team had something to say. This was one of the players of whose reaction Mertens was most afraid. He has a reputation of seeking out fights, eager for fisticuffs, Mertens said. He laid it all on the line in front of the team.

“If anyone has a problem with Conner,” he said, “I’ll kick your ass.”

Every one of the team members who spoke shared the same sentiment. Mertens is a member of the team, he has a bright future on the gridiron, and it just doesn’t matter if he has a boyfriend or a girlfriend.

“It’s been insanely incredible,” Mertens said a couple hours after the meeting last night. Text messages and phone calls poured in from the team, all offering their love and support. “I’m speechless. That is the only word I can use to describe this. Even a lot of the guys on the football team I was most scared of are the ones who have been the most amazing.”

One team mate asked Mertens to meet him on campus. When he arrived, the player gave Mertens a big hug.

You can see Conner’s tweet, letter and the responses below.

And you can read Cyd Zeigler’s excellent article chronicling Conner’s journey to today at OutSports. I really urge you to head over and read the entire piece. It will give you a lift in terms of how great the next generation will be.

Congratulations Conner on a heartfelt and honest coming out, and for having great taste in friends and team mates.