A Powerful Role Model
Keenen Geter, B.A. ’13
Sometimes a single moment can catalyze a life. For Keenen Geter, B.A. ’13, it arrived Oct. 8, 2011. He was on his way to a University of Baltimore student government retreat when he fell asleep behind the wheel. His car drifted off the highway, flipped and landed with a sudden jolt.
“I thought, ‘What if I had died without ever having given back to the community?’”
His injuries were minor, but he recalls sitting in the hospital grappling with the significance of the event. “I thought, ‘What if I had died without ever having given back to the community?’” says Geter, who completed an undergraduate degree in jurisprudence and is now finishing a Master of Public Administration degree at UB.
Shortly afterward, he founded Young Men With POWER (which stands for Purpose, Optimism, Wisdom, Engagement and Responsibility), a nonprofit that helps Baltimore-area boys in grades 5-9 develop the confidence and skills needed to become responsible young men who contribute to their communities.
Geter built his team from a trusted circle of friends who shared his vision and passion. Together, they developed a yearlong program that pairs boys with mentors and features a community-service project and 16 workshops—held on the UB campus—on topics such as financial literacy, college prep, leadership and public speaking.
They recruited participants through emails, word of mouth and a booth at a local anti-bullying summit. Twenty boys enrolled the first year, and a total of 52 have completed the program since its launch in 2012.
Raised by a single mom, Baltimore native Geter chose to help young men because he understands firsthand the challenges they face and the influences that can help lead them down the right road.
“Although she was a single parent, my mom worked and inspired me to get an education, to stay focused and to get a good job and career,” Geter says. “She also got me into programs that kept me on a straight path.”
His path has led to accomplishments that include serving as a mayoral fellow for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, as a White House intern under President Barack Obama, as a constituent services representative in U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office and, currently, as a community coordinator in the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
Geter’s future plans include becoming a lawyer so he can serve as a legal advocate for youth or for a government agency.
“I plan on going to law school at the University of Baltimore,” he says. “So that’s how much I love the University—all my degrees will be from UB.”