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1:46 - Journey to UD

21:14 - Leadership

25:45 - Journey to UD: Decision to Attend UD

30:15 - While at UD: Campus Mother

32:50 - While at UD: Wendt Character

34:17 - While at UD: More Staff that made an Influence

35:29 - While at UD: Racial Issues in Dubuque

38:50 - Leadership Part 2

40:51 - After UD

43:48 - While at UD: Safety

45:17 - President Bullock

47:05 - While at UD: Social Activities

48:01 - UD Preparation for Graduate School

49:40 - While at UD: Diversity

54:43 - After UD: Social Services

61:11 - Ahead of the Curve Project



(Mikelange Olbel) Journey My parents are originally from Haiti. I was born here in America. Born in Fort Lauderdale Hospital, raised in Pompano Beach, Florida. We was exposed to many environmental challenges living in an urban area. Early on I was exposed to people selling drugs. I was exposed to prostitution. I was seeing all these things that was going on in my community. Our parents came here as immigrants; they were working. We lived in a van for a little bit. It was five boys and two parents living in a van. I watched my father take us from a van to a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment to a two-bedroom, one-bath, to a four-bedroom and three-baths house. I watched gradually what work ethic can do growing up, watching my father - he actually passed away last year, July 22, 2014; who was a great role model, my definition of a real man's man. He really wanted to get us out of that environment.

(Mikelange Olbel) Journey I was one who always wanted to please my father because he was a man I greatly admired. There's five of us brothers. Only two of us got a high school diploma. Only one of us has an undergrad degree and a graduate degree, and that's me. I was about proving to my father that I will be the best son that he has. I went through this journey. I was playing high school football up until my junior year. I tore my ACL. I was getting letters from different schools and I was looking at Mississippi State University. I had my heart set on that. None of the schools wanted me after I tore my ACL. Then I heard about University of Dubuque at a Division III football conference where the recruiters would come in and talk to the kids. I ran into a guy. He was a running back coach named Chris. Chris was a good football coach. He was from West Palm Beach. He was like, "Uh, what's your GPA?" I said 3.5 and I showed him my transcripts from what it was before to what it is now. I went from a 1.5 to a 3.5. I got all these awards for having one of the most community service hours. I took a visit trip, and I flew into Moline. I was like, "Ok, this is more city-like" "Where are you guys taking me? Am I going to be safe here?" I really had a culture shock being an inner-city kid where you have all these big buildings just down the street and all this other stuff to "we've got cornfields." I liked the visit. My parents came to drop me off. My mom said, "Son, I'm coming here for two things. I'm coming here to drop you off so you can start school, and I'm coming here for your graduation. I'm not coming to Homecoming. I'm not coming to no Parents' Night. None of that." My mom asked the football coach, Coach Ronnegan, "How long does it take a college student-athlete to finish?" He said, "Well, it takes about five to five-and-a-half years." My mom said, "No, my son will be done in four years and his GPA will still be up." I looked at my mom like "Mom, what are you doing?" and she told me to shut up. "Shut up. You're going to do what I tell you to do."

(Mikelange Olbel) Race & Diversity There was a campus mother, Mother Barbara. I love Mother Barbara. She made me feel like I was her son. I remember being in the cold in November. Can't go home for Thanksgiving because Florida kids, we only get home twice a year, that was Christmas break and the summer. We couldn't afford it any other time. I remember Thanksgiving break she came and brought me a box of cereal, noodles... I mean, I was so shocked. I couldn't believe it. I was like, "Man, this is awesome!" For me, as a freshman, that solidified that I was in the right place. The second time I got off the plane, and that time I landed in Dubuque airport, I dealt with some racial issues. That was hard for me. I was being called the N-word. I was being oppressed because I was dating a white woman who actually is my wife today, and we persevered through all of that together. When you have people who see past color, like Barbara, who see past cultural differences and everything else, oh man, it makes a home a home. I believe that Barbara has such a great heart. It's just genuine.

(Mikelange Olbel) Acad & Soc Walter Hosen was the Director of the Multicultural Student Affairs at the time, and he always found leadership positions for me to be in. Actually Walter informed me about the Wendt Character Scholarship. He was like, "You need to consider that." I was like, "Walter, they're not going to give it to me. I'm dealing with some cultural issues here." Walter was just like, "Look. I don't care about your challenges. I need you to do this." Sure enough, I went after it. I was awarded, and it was one of the best decisions. When I got the Wendt Character Scholarship I stopped playing football because academics is more important than anything else. People can take sports away from you. They can take everything else away from you, but they can't take the knowledge you possess.

(Mikelange Olbel) After UD My non-profit, we work with diversion kids. I located my office in one of the ruralest areas that has one of the highest crime rates because I want to help save some kids. I used to watch my mom feed people when I was growing up, and they didn't pay her. She always taught me, "The biggest payment that I can get is knowing that I helped feed someone else's child." That taught me wonders. If I find out there's a kid in my program that didn't eat, I go to the phone and buy his family groceries. I still carry some of the very things I learned from childhood, and that was also what I was doing in Dubuque. We actually have a food program that we don't really publicize it because demand could get so high. We privately provide groceries to different families. Our non-profit is called Team Saving Our Youth. I founded it back in 2012. During that time I was working for another non-profit so that I can gain that experience. During that time I was still feeding families. Every year we give away book bags with school supplies in there. We do HIV/AIDS awareness for the community. We work diligently with the court system so kids don't end up in prison. They have an educational opportunity to change their behaviors around. We provide substance abuse testing for the community to make sure parents are holding kids accountable. There's a wealth of stuff that we do. We're in the process of turning this organization into a mental health organization. We realize there are a lot of people with mental health problems and not getting the proper treatment for it.