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    By Todd Martin

    Out of an estimated 5,500 new freshmen to start at Texas Tech University next fall, just 16 will be part of the business school’s elite leadership program, including one from Harker Heights High School.

    In a planned surprise ceremony Tuesday announcing the award, interim dean Paul Goebel awarded Joseph Kellam entrance into the Rawls Business Leaders Program within the university’s Rawls College of Business.

    Aware of his acceptance into the program, the Harker Heights High School senior smiled along with his proud mother, Denise Kellam as they accepted the official confirmation acceptance package from the university dean.

    Goebel, who traveled from the university in Lubbock to make the presentation in the high school conference room, explained to the student and his mom the benefits of the prestigious leadership program.

    Following graduation from high school, the Harker Heights senior will take up residence in the university’s honors residence hall and have access to leadership opportunities on the campus.

    There are also significant scholarship opportunities renewable each year of college.

    He will have a chance to serve as a university ambassador, will have the opportunity to study abroad and will take part in networking activities with business leaders tied to the university.

    “We want to build business leaders for the future,” Goebel said.

    “It’s pretty surreal,” Kellam said. “In the past, I wouldn’t have seen it coming. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

    Busy playing football and soccer and taking part in a new club called Best Buddies that supported the schools’ special education students, the high-achieving senior also grew up with the typical challenges of a military family.

    His father, Robert Kellam continues to serve as an active-duty soldier. He has served multiple deployments and transferred to a new duty station ahead of his wife and son.

    “Words cannot convey how proud I am,” said Denise Kellam, a fifth-grade teacher at Cedar Valley Elementary School. “We’ve always told him ‘try your best, that’s all we can ask.’”

    She agreed that the leadership program is extensively prestigious. “To be chosen, it’s an overwhelming accomplishment,” she said, lauding the support of involved grandparents and friends as well as the nuclear family.

    About 1,000 new Texas Tech freshmen will enter the university’s business school and 150 applied for the leadership program, with 16 receiving acceptance.

    April 18, 2017

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