For as long as he can remember, Leo Bell, A&S '71, was determined to become an officer in the U.S. Army. It was an ambitious goal for an African-American boy growing up in a rural, racially segregated town. But Bell equated the Army with seeing the world and advancing as far as his personality, skill, and tenacity could take him.
Bell spent much of the 1950s and '60s in Weimar, Texas, a small town that was, like the rest of the state, racially divided. He returned to his birthplace of Houston for high school, where he joined the Army Junior ROTC. He was the Class of 1967 valedictorian and a National Merit Scholarship finalist, achievements that opened doors for him. Soon, he was inundated with brochures from colleges throughout the country. He happened to be watching a special that was part of the Bell Laboratory Science Series made for AT&T Corporation in the 1960s when, during a commercial break, a Bell Labs engineer mentioned Johns Hopkins. "I went back and pulled that brochure, and I said, 'This is in Baltimore.' And the first thing I thought of was Johnny Unitas and Raymond Berry," he says, referring to the Baltimore Colts.
Read more in the latest Johns Hopkins Magazine.