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|AEB Profile Shabazz|
Seku N. Shabazz AEB Profile
I majored in biology and had minors in philosophy and chemistry.
Where are you from?
From Boston, Massachusetts.
Where do you currently live?
3 words to describe yourself?
Always moving forward
What is the most interesting thing about you?
I circumnavigated the globe when I was twenty-six years old. I left from Detroit and went all around the world until I came back to Hiram. How it worked is, I had two back to back semesters of study abroad with Hiram, so I took some time off around those trips in order to do it all at once. I studied the psychology of nation building with Professor Gwen Fischer and Professor Maryanne Brockett in Zimbabwe, and then I spent three and a half months in Australia studying geology with Professor Marty Huener and Professor Prudy Hall. I went to South Africa, Malaysia in between Africa and Australia and Europe on the way to Africa.
From this experience, I found that the world is a small place and we are all pretty much alike in outside of currencies, languages, religion, color and more…it is all irrelevant, but you will never figure that out unless you go out and you really see it. People are the same everywhere.
How did you find Hiram?
Both of my parents went to Hiram. Believe it or not, they met during their senior years despite the fact that Hiram is so small. My dad studied chemistry and biology while my mom was an art and art history major.
What clubs were you involved in?
I was in African American Students United, an outreach program called Upwards Bounds in Mantua, I was a lab aid for biology and chemistry classes, a statistician for all of the sports teams, a DJ for the radio station and I was the first African American Student Senate President.
Your favorite Hiram traditions?
I liked the campus days, they were always fun.
Professor Edward Smerek taught calculus and he was an outstanding human being.
What is your favorite location on campus?
The Quad, it was home for four years. If walls could talk…
What is your favorite Hiram memory?
The dorm room conversations. They popped up out of nowhere and then you would have all disciplines in your room, students in chemistry, political science, art and more. The majors on campus were so small that you did not have enough people in one major to have your own exclusive friend group. You really floated around. For example, for me, there were only four chemistry majors. During these moments, spontaneous conversations started then we were talking about the whole world. I can’t replicate that in post life, post Hiram. I miss that.
What is the most important thing that you learned from Hiram?
“How to Learn,” hands down, the best gift I ever received.
Do you feel that Hiram prepared you for your future?
Originally, I was going to be a doctor like my father. But, my senior year I decided against it the last minute. My father was upset, but I thought that these are my shoes and I should live in them as I want, doing what I want to do with my life. A professor set me up with a job at Case Western Reserve University to clone brain cells and neurons, but I didn’t want to be in a lab all day. As a student, Hiram paid me to work construction, so I took that experience and opened a construction company.
What is your current employment? Retired? What are you doing now?
My construction company ran for seven years until it went bankrupt due to a significant injury. Next, I went into sales and eventually investments, selling auto insurance to get started. After working as a sales rep for multiple companies, I was hired as a financial representative for Farmers Insurance from ’11 to ’13. I was a financial advisor for two years at Skylight Financial Group and then became a financial planner at Prudential Financial in 2015. Since 2017, I currently work as a registered investment advisor at CLE Retirement Planning, a firm that I founded. I am soon planning on stepping up to my new role as CEO of The Great Lakes Family of Companies where we specialize in short term commercial lending.
What do you enjoy in your spare time?
Exercise is huge, I do weight training too. I like to bike, travel and am really into sports, only Cleveland sports.
What brought you back to reconnect with the AEB?
Honestly, I stayed away from Hiram for a while after I graduated. I met many challenges and was mistreated when I was the Student Senate President. I thought about attending the fifth year reunion but I didn’t. It wasn’t until a group of students met with Dee West at Hiram, asking who the great leaders of the past were. They had never heard of me and everyone was excited to learn about the first African American Student Senate President. They students reached out to me and worked really hard to get me into the Hiram College Alumni Hall of Fame. It was really touching, there was a ceremony and everything with the members of the Alumni Executive Board (AEB), even some members of the Board of Trustees attended the reception. When I drove home that night, remembering the touching speech, I thought, am I going to let a few people ruin my experience and give them that much power? No, I would not. I then went to my tenth Class reunion, had a blast and slowly started to re-involve myself with the college.
I joined the AEB in 2014. I am looking forward to these next two years to see the changes that we will be able to get done and the changes we can help with.
Anything else you would like to share?
Hiram was the sunrise of my life. I first moved there in 1995, I graduated in 2000—it was a great time. I could never have started my own company and even made it into investments without the tools Hiram gave me, making me able to put self-discipline into my learning, even learning how to learn. I never took a class in economics but I manage millions of dollars. Hiram has made me love learning so I was able to accomplish all of this on my own afterwards, to learn how to do investments and more.