Jerry Wallace wore a suit to class when he was a doctoral student. After graduating from Grand Valley in 2009, he went on to earn two master's degrees and a doctoral degree.
He is now the president of Danville Community College in Virginia. At 38, he is among the youngest college presidents in the U.S. and the youngest president in the history of the Virginia Community College System.
During a January 18 keynote presentation as part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Week events on campus, Wallace said he often went "over and beyond" because he knew he would usually be the only person of color in whatever room he was in.
"I wore a suit during my doctoral studies, I wore a suit when I was middle management," Wallace said. "I felt I had to legitimize myself before I got into the room."