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By D. Aileen Dodd

Ivan Conard came to Morehouse College from Cleveland with raw talent and no real way to pay for his education. When his pregnant mother dropped him off for freshman orientation 710 miles away from home, he was convinced that he could somehow find a way to stay for classes.

Conard, a natural salesman, wasn’t worried.

It took him three days of knocking on doors and pitching himself to administrators to secure the means to cover his higher education. On May 21, Conard will make good on the investment Morehouse made in his future. He will graduate with honors and start a new career - in banking and sales.

“I fear nothing,” he said. “ I have always had faith and the gift of gab.”

Getting enrolled at Morehouse College took some persistence. Conard had no credit. He was denied for a Parent Plus Loan. But his track coach and Morehouse alumni in his community insisted that he was a leader and had the determination of a future Morehouse Man. So, Conard followed his dreams. His mother drove him and two cousins 12 hours to Morehouse hoping someone would help.

“I had other scholarships to go to college from Kent State and Akron, but I wanted to go to Morehouse,” he said. “I wanted to be surrounded by positive and productive black men. It was something that I had been searching for most of my life.”

His father was in and out of his life. “I had always grown up around women,” Conard said. “The one thing that I missed was a primary role model.”

When Conard arrived at Morehouse, his name wasn’t on the list for New Student Orientation. He went to the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Office of Student Relations to meet administrators who could help him to navigate financial aid and research available scholarships. He was so confident that he could find a way to pay for college that he told his expectant mother to go back home. He spent the night with his aunt in Atlanta.

“That night I prayed as hard as I could until tears came into my eyes, and then I came back to Morehouse to meet with Dean [Terrance] Dixon,” Conard said. “He told me he had found me a Procter & Gamble scholarship for $10,000 and a Morehouse scholarship for $5,000. He wrote out a plan for me to stay in school. All I had to do was follow that plan and maintain my GPA.”

Conard stuck to that agreement. By junior year, he had built his credit up enough to take on additional loans to afford to stay on campus. “I wanted to create a role model story for myself for others to listen to,” he said.

Then, Conard raised his grade point average to a 3.3. He took advantage of internships, including one at the Procter & Gamble Human Resources Leadership Summit. And last summer, he received the opportunity of a lifetime. He was awarded a summer scholarship to study psychology and Zulu at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “It was a like a reward for my hard work. I met wonderful people. I ran with the cheetahs, climbed Table Mountain, and went to Robben Island prison to hear the stories of Nelson Mandela and others imprisoned in the fight for equality.”

In the final semester of Conard’s senior year, he won a Quicken Loans Sales Competition that landed him a job after college. He was the only psychology major to compete among 40 contestants, most of whom were business majors. The goal of the competition was to peddle merchandise to customers in a confident and convincing way. First, the group pushed helmets. Then, those who hit their sales goals went to the next round.

Conard’s first customer happened to be Dr. Cassandra Wells, the director of Morehouse’s Marketing Program.

“I went in just trying to learn,” Conard said. “When I finished, Dr. Wells asked me if I was interested in having a minor in sales. She said that I would thrive in her department.”

Conard’s next challenge in the competition was selling marketing services to a Quicken loan rep. He closed a deal for $10,000 and was announced as the $500 first prize winner.

“He said my name and the room went quiet,” Conard said. “I was so shocked. I wasn’t a sales minor. All the recruiters from Quicken Loans and State Farm approached me and gave me their business cards. One judge told me that because of my performance, he would be sending his son to Morehouse College.”

Conard later interviewed with Quicken Loans and was offered a job as a mortgage banker. He will work in finance for three to five years and consider pursuing an MBA or law degree.

He credits his success to his time at Morehouse; it is where he learned to be a Morehouse Man. He describes the distinction this way: “A Morehouse Man is an upstanding individual with tenacity and confidence. He gives back to his community and encourages others to be themselves. He continues on through the darkness when things don’t seem bright and always remains true to himself.”

Conard said that people now see him as a role model. He is a mentor for some of his classmates and students he tutors at Best Academy High School in Atlanta.

“I never started off at the top of anything in life,” he said. “Anything that I have, I have always worked hard for. It pushes me now to see that if I start off at one level, and if I work hard enough, if I have the dedication, even if I don’t know how to achieve something, I can get there.”


Name: Ivan T. Conard

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Cleveland

Clubs: McNair Scholars; Chi Alpha Epsilon National Honors Society; National Society of Collegiate Scholars; P.U.S.H.A.S organization; Y.A.L.E organization; and Spelman Senior Class Council Court.

Morehouse College professor integral to my success: Dr. Martin Rosen has always described skills and talents I had even when I was unaware of myself. He has helped build my confidence and ensured I graduated on time.

Morehouse College program integral to my success: McNair Scholars Program has assisted me in developing my overall research abilities and presentations skills as a scholar. This program has provided us with visits to graduate school programs, opportunities to conduct summer research projects, and classes to prepare for the GRE. Being a member of this program has nurtured me as a scholar and made it possible for me to connect with other students who aspire to obtain their Ph.D.

Senior awards: First place Quicken Loans Sales competition winner, first place Atlanta University Center Psychological Research Day winner, and first attendant Mr. Senior.

Plans after graduation: Mortgage banking officer at Quicken Loans while continuing research with the University of Georgia.

by: Kara Walker

Posted By: Elly Moss
Thursday, May 11th 2017 at 10:52AM
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