Social mobility moves Adrian College students up the ladder of success

ADRIAN, Mich. — U.S. News & World Report designated Adrian College as a Top Performer on Social Mobility in its 2020 edition of “U.S. News Best Colleges.” This honor is presented only to institutions that enroll and graduate large numbers of disadvantaged students awarded with Pell Grants, a form of need-based financial aid.

“Being recognized for promoting social mobility is very meaningful for us because we have helped so many students improve the future quality of their lives,” Adrian College President Jeffrey Docking said. “Seeing students who are less fortunate than others succeed is a big part of what this educational institution is all about. The number of students with Pell Grants at Adrian really shows our commitment. It indicates that we have a lot of kids coming from working-class backgrounds.

“The luckiest thing that happens to any of us in life — which we have absolutely no choice in whatsoever — is the family we’re born into,” Docking added. “We land here like we’re landing on Mars. And when we’re old enough and mature enough to look around and see that others weren’t as fortunate as us… I think it’s actually bred into human beings to help those who are less fortunate.”

Approximately 600 of Adrian College’s students receive the Pell Grant. While these students are considered “disadvantaged,” that has not stopped them from striving for excellence. Brandon Moody, a senior majoring in athletic training, is one of those 600 students. He has never allowed labels like disadvantaged to undermine his desire and drive to climb up the ladder of success and out of poverty. In fact, after completing his Bachelor of Science in exercise science / pre-athletic training at Adrian College next spring, he plans to stay and earn a master’s degree.

“They introduced me to the athletic training program here and a lot of the success it was having — especially with graduate students — and how I could get my master’s from the same institution,” Moody said, adding that the Bulldogs also had a solid football program. “It all tied in together and made it a really good decision for me to go here,” he said.

During his four years at Adrian College, Moody has been the co-captain on the Bulldogs’ football team, an Adrian College associate trustee, the vice president of the Athletic Training Student Organization and an executive board member on the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association Student Athlete Advisory Committee (representing men). With a cumulative 3.7 GPA, he has also earned memberships in various honor societies and service organizations, including Mortar Board, the National College Senior Honor Society, Phi Eta Sigma and the National Society of Leadership and Success.

In the future, Moody plans on becoming a certified and licensed athletic trainer and working at an institution affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association or the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. If the opportunity ever came along, he would love to work in a professional league.

“Brandon is one of the most hard-working students I have known,” said Dr. Tina Claiborne, an athletic training professor and director of the athletic training program. “Rather than making excuses, Brandon uses his past experiences to fuel his desire and drive. His adaptability, resilience and humility are welcome yet rare qualities. We are fortunate to be a part of his future success.”

Moody was born in Toledo, Ohio, one of the most dangerous cities in the nation. When he was a child, his parents moved to Sylvania, Ohio to give him a better environment and education. Despite his parents divorcing during his junior season, Moody maintained good grades and graduated from Northview High School as a three-sport athlete, participating in wrestling, football, and track and field.

It wasn’t easy for Moody to earn his diploma after the divorce, especially after he and his mother were evicted from an apartment and forced to live in an extended stay facility in Toledo. 

“Most people wouldn’t consider that hard because you have a roof over your head, but it still wasn’t a place I could call home,” Moody said, adding that it was tough on his mother, who worked two jobs to get them out of there. “Her biggest worry was for me. She could care less about how she was feeling. I can’t thank her enough for everything she’s done.”

Moody felt he had a lot to live up to and wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. He said his father received a full-ride to a NCAA Division I university and was later scouted by four NFL teams. His father even received an invitation to the Atlanta Falcons’ Rookie Mini-Camp, but a torn ACL kept him from going.

Moody knew because of his smaller size and capabilities that attending a NCAA Division I university wasn’t the most practical decision for him. So, he decided going to a smaller college would be the path he’d take, and he selected Adrian. However, getting on the playing field even at a NCAA Division III level was just as tough as he expected. He saw limited time on the gridiron.

“I went through a lot of difficult times, especially with anxiety and depression,” Moody said. “But, Adrian College has helped me get through a lot of that with the counseling services they have here.” 

Moody has come to understand life is what you make of it. Not everything goes as planned. There will always be bumps in the road.

“I believe in God… I put so many things in my life into his hands,” Moody said. “There were so many times I just wanted to go to the chapel, and I would sit there, whether I was crying or praying. I give everything to him, really, when it comes to my personal successes and why things happen. I just trust that it’s happening for a reason.”

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