Albert Gibbs is set on changing how his community defines success.
“A lot of young black males where I’m from, only see success as musicians, basketball, football players, and I know a lot of very successful guys that are engineers, lawyers, doctors, IT professionals like myself, and I want to expose those guys to them,” says Gibbs referring to the students he mentors through his Albert Gibbs Leadership Academy.
Gibbs, a 2001 graduate of Deerfield Beach High, founded the program in 2015 to mentor and award scholarships to young black men from his high school. Ednis Jeanty was one of the first recipients.
“It wasn’t just the typical scholarship where you just get the money and you never meet the person or you never hear from them again if you met them, but I’ve still been able to keep in contact with Albert to this day,” says Jeanty, now in his second year at Florida Atlantic University. Gibbs and Jeanty still meet about twice a semester.
“I tell them, look, whatever it is, I want to be a resource for you when you graduate,” says Gibbs. Jeanty adds, “If I ever needed anything, I could always hit up Albert. He checks in on me, asks how everything is going.” From gifted laptops, to making professional introductions, Gibbs’ generosity stems from opportunities he was given as a young man.
At 18, he interned at software company Citrix, where he was mentored by the company’s CEO and another employee. Years later, Gibbs would return to Citrix as an employee. He works there now as an IT Consulting Sales Manager.
“The same way I’ve been able to make it, and go and have a great career, and travel the world, you can do it too,” says Gibbs.
Ednis Jeanty was a student at Deerfield Beach High when he first met Gibbs. A jazz enthusiast and musician, he is as equally talented in the sciences and is now studying Health Policy and Administration at FAU, while working at a marketing research company.
Like Jeanty, there are others whose lives have been touched by Gibbs, who even treats young men to free barbershop visits. “That’s kind of a black man’s safe haven,” says Gibbs about the significance of the barber shop in the African American community, adding, “it’s where you have conversation, it’s where you go and laugh, and kind of escape a lot of the craziness that’s going on in society. I also believe in you have to look presentable. I strongly stress that to all of the kids.”
Gibbs is molding the men of tomorrow, personally mentoring, or finding mentors, for young men today. Those young men are already redefining success in their community. “Success is being happy doing what you want to do,” says Jeanty.
So far, six young men have been awarded scholarships and are being mentored. Gibbs is working with Deerfield Beach High to identify even more future leaders.