“Winning scholarships is mostly about being able to tell your story and hitting the submit button.” – Henry Keculah, Jr.
Welcome back Story Tellers! Today’s main character is Henry Keculah, Jr. (@henrykeculahjr)
Henry is the founder and CEO of 4.0 of Growth Productivity Accountability (4.0 GPA). Brought up in Houston, Texas, Henry was raised in a single-parent home by a mother who migrated to the U.S. from Liberia. He was a first-generation citizen, and attended school in Alief ISD. While in school, Henry had been completely unaware of the important role that class ranking and GPA played when it came to attending college. He also had never gone on a college tour prior to attending his university’s summer orientation.
Thankfully, Henry was able to turn things around. In his junior year of high school, Henry learned that his GPA could determine not only what colleges he could have access to, but also which scholarships he could apply for, as well. He ended graduating from high school with a 2.5 GPA and gaining admission to The University of Texas at Austin despite not being in the “Top 10%” of his graduating class. In college, he applied himself further still – he finished his freshman year at The University of Texas with a 4.0 GPA, and would garner several scholarships over the course of his academic career there.
Upon graduating from The University of Texas, Henry was accepted into the Teach for America corps, with whom he served as a high school teacher in Houston. As an educator, Henry committed himself to giving his students the opportunities he had not had, so they would be better prepared for college. For example, he often took students on college tours to institutions throughout the United States. Even when he ended his tenure with Teach for America, he continued to take Houston-area students to college tours (like The University of Texas’s annual “Explore UT” event) on a yearly basis.
In 2016, Henry decided to establish his own company, 4.0 GPA. He began at the micro- level by hosting college readiness workshops at community college for students and their parents. In the months to come, 4.0 GPA would expand to include workshops held within public school districts and established working partnerships with Houston-area charter schools.
4.0 GPA works with schools and private organizations by helping to provide both low- and high-performing students with the opportunity to not only get into accepted into college, but to graduate within four years. 4.0 GPA disseminates tips and information to students, student athletes, and their parents that will enable them to succeed both in the classroom and the real world. The organization provides services from grade 6 on up, and works with schools and individual parents to design personalized plans for students to help them prepare for college.
During this powerful and wide ranging chat, Henry and I discussed:
- The motivation behind starting 4.0 GPA, LLC
- Challenges first generation college students face
- When should students and their parents begin the college planning process (this may surprise you)
- Uncovering scholarships families may be aware of
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to successful people for advise
- Leverage tools and organizations that allow you to grow your business with
- Importance of being patient and not giving up so easily
- and much more
THEY SAID IT BEST
“I was passionate about it, and I feel like it was something God was telling me to do.
“I never went on a college tour from K-12, and I was not aware of the college experience at all.
“There were a lot of kids in my neighborhood that wanted to go to college but didn’t know how to.
“Do not pay for PR services, be your own PR person.
“You can not give up so early, be patient.
“Make the earth better than I made it.
- When you see a need, use your passion and talents to fill it.
- Have students take a career assessment test to help identify what career path they’re passionate about.
- Be willing to do things for free. Doing so can pay dividends in the long run.
- Write down your goals, review them daily, and find people to hold you accountable to them.
- Don’t wait until January to start your New Year’s Resolution(s). Start NOW so you are in a good groove by the time January rolls around.
CONNECT WITH HENRY
WATCH HENRY SPEAK
A Tribe Called Yes podcast is a podcast for people who need a nudge to take the plunge
Start Up podcast is a podcast about what it’s really like to get a business off the ground.
Liftoff Houston helps launch businesses today for a better Houston tomorrow. Henry recently won $10,000 for their “Shark Tank” style competition
SCORE Houston offers the nation’s largest network of free, expert business mentors.
Check out Henry and 4.0 GPA at SXSW EDU
Wait, How Do I Promote My Business, by Danny Rubin
The Score Takes Care of Itself, by Bill Walsh
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote, or lesson from this episode? Please let us know in the comments.