Have You Met Rutgers-Newark?

Teen Prodigy Pursues Third Degree at Rutgers University–Newark

When Ty Hobson-Powell walks across the Rutgers University–Newark campus, the top of a red and white-striped cane peaks out of his backpack—the symbol of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity that he joined at 16 while attending North Carolina Central University Law School. A button on his backpack reads “I love HU,” revealing his time at Howard University. In six years, Hobson-Powell has been to five colleges and has a B.A. (University of Baltimore) and an M.A. (Liberty University), and he’s only 19 years old.

With two impressive credentials, media attention, a national speaking tour, and more than 26,000 Twitter and Instagram followers, Hobson-Powell has a lot of opportunities. When he graduated last summer with a master’s degree in human services, friends, family, and fans wondered what he would do next.

The Washington, D.C. native considered his options and decided to do something that was always on his list—attend Rutgers University–Newark.

 “My father went to Rutgers–Newark, he met my mom when he was at Rutgers, so he’s been singing its praises my entire life. It’s really what got him his footing in the world,” he says. “He always told me about how this is one of those premier institutions, often underlooked because it doesn’t have that Ivy League status, but in terms of academic rigor it’s very much there.”

Hobson-Powell’s father, Edwin Witt Powell (Class of ’92), is currently a professor at Howard University, looking to become a city councilman in Washington, D.C. Powell’s commitment to education helped cultivate his son's love of learning.

At RU–N, Hobson-Powell is enrolled as a Master of Science student in the Global Affairs Program, with intentions of eventually obtaining a doctoral degree. He’s only been at the university for a few weeks, but says that he’s found something special.

“Every time I leave the classroom, I feel smarter. That’s a rarity, because all too common [at universities] is the experience of going in and feeling like you didn’t get your tuition’s worth,” he says.

The teen prodigy’s academic pursuits at RU–N are the latest in a scholastic career marked by accelerated learning. In eighth grade, his school’s headmaster encouraged him to begin taking courses toward a high school diploma, and one year later he had completed all of his requirements. Confronted with the decision to start college at 13 years old, he convinced his parents to allay their doubts and allow him to attend college.

“In a world where we have so many young men who are taking that accelerated path into the judicial system, becoming incarcerated, why not let me take that leap to college?,” he recalls asking.

With their support, he began an experience that has made him who he is today, an ambitious young man with a passion for learning and a fear of complacency.

Currently, he is engaged in a tour called #Inspire2014, in which he travels throughout the country primarily to colleges & universities, recreation centers, and churches, among other locations, telling his story and encouraging others to make the most of their potential.

“I may not be the change agent who revolutionizes this next generation, and I’m not claiming to be. My goal is to at least shape, mold, and inspire a change agent who will go out there and be the next Obama, the next Steve Jobs, the next revolutionary thinker,” he says.

When asked what he wants to do in the future, Hobson-Powell is unsure because his mind is in “a million places,” but he has interests in global finance, law and policy. Nonetheless, he says that he is comforted in knowing that he has time to figure life out.  After all, he’s only 19.