Inspired, Successful Alum Visits The Hive for The First Time in 12 Years


Kevin Booker organizes a meeting with upperclassmen to talk about Morehouse College

Yannie Lopez, Photography Editor

Kevin Booker, a leading educator at Morehouse College in Atlanta and a former Senior Group Leader, visited St. Benedict´s Prep Tuesday, Nov. 27, to meet students and inspire them to pursue their goals.

Booker ‘86, the Associate Dean of the College for Student Life at Morehouse, told the SBP community at Convo that he stopped by Benedict’s after being moved by the 2018 documentary, “Stay Together, myATstory.” The film, by Chris Gallaway, tracks the progress and setbacks of a group of SBP students on The Backpacking Project, the annual 50-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey, which Freshmen traditionally undergo to culminate their first year.

SBP Headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy, O.S.B., introduced Booker at Convo, describing Booker’s life story as remarkable. Booker’s survival of an Atlantic City shooting, Fr. Ed said, propelled Booker to devote his life to at-risk youth. Booker went on to address the crowd by praising his experiences at SBP and attributing much of his success in life to what he learned here. Booker said the message of his story was not that he survived a bullet wound, but about the realizations he had and the actions he took after the fact. “It caused me to also reflect on what I was giving back in life…so many times we think about ourselves, and we don’t think about others as we pursue whatever career it is,” he said. After a lengthy healing process, he said he was inspired to give back to the world and help young adults, especially young men, referencing St. Benedict’s Prep.

One vivid memory he traces back to St. Benedict’s occurred in late spring 1985. Booker, then a UD2(Junior), as the lead commander for the Backpacking Project, was forced to make a difficult decision. While he was still on the hike, he was informed that one of his close friends, Jason Finley (a member of the class of ‘85), had suffered a tragic death. Finley was using a phone during a thunderstorm when, all of a sudden, lightning struck the ground, traveled through the wire, and electrocuted him. Booker had two options: to either continue to hike the trail or to be the first team not to complete the trail in order to attend Jason’s funeral. “I asked myself, ‘What would Jason want?’” Booker said. “He would have said to continue hiking,” he added. But Booker ultimately decided to take the students off the trail to attend Jason’s funeral. He felt the need to pay his respects to Finley.

At SBP, Booker learned leadership skills he has used and cultivated over the years, and he shared that knowledge with students. He described leadership as being composed of five important qualities: modeling the way, leading by example, challenging the process, enabling others to act and encouraging the heart. Each of those qualities has its own explanation. To model the way means to be a role model for others. Leading by example and modeling the way coincide with each other; if one wants to lead by example, then they must model the way for others. Challenging the process means to go against the odds. Booker recounted that he challenged the process when he made a decision that was against Fr. Ed’s wishes. To enable others to act means to pave the road for others to follow and succeed so that, they too, can someday do the same for others. Finally, to encourage other’s hearts means to bring out the spirit in others. Ultimately, a leader isn’t there only to lead. A leader is there to inspire others to act, to bring out the best in every person.