Throughout his life, Preston Copeland has embraced challenges as part of the journey towards self-actualization: the full employment of his God-given talents.
Ever since he demonstrated an early gift for reading, Preston has harbored an affinity for all of language’s facets. Perhaps this is why one of Preston’s junior year teachers comments: “I have never had a student who had such a love of language . . . I looked forward to reading his papers not only for the beauty of his language but also because of the strength and originality of his personal voice.”
Preston also loves to learn. Currently the class valedictorian, this year he is taking five AP courses, one of which through independent study. Indeed, his philological pursuits have paid rich dividends: he is an AP Scholar, National Merit Finalist, National Achievement Finalist, MD Distinguished Scholar, Venture’s Scholar, has won 1st place in both the MD JCI Senate Scholarship Competition and MD Voice of Democracy Competition, and has received six citations from the Baltimore County Board of Education.
Nevertheless, Preston’s real talent is writing. He is a poet, and is most proud of winning 1st place in the National High School Poetry Contest–his piece was selected out of 30,000 entries from all fifty states, Guam, and Puerto Rico. He won 3rd place in the 2003 National ACTSO competition, and has had “The Worst Thing of All” both published in Poetry.com’s anthology and recorded on The Sound of Poetry, a professional three-CD collection of youth poetry. He was one of thirty-three poets nationwide to receive this honor.
Preston is also a contributor to The Catalyst, the school newspaper, and Synergy, the literary magazine. His commentary “Is Using the N-Word A Crime?” won 1st place in the Baltimore County Creative Writing Contest. He won 3rd place nationally in the Ayn Rand The Fountainhead Essay Contest.
Preston is active in theater, having appeared in eight of his school’s shows. He is also a varsity cross-country and track runner, and received the Coach’s Award for sportsmanship in tenth grade. Incidentally, he is an orator: he won 1st place in the WJZ (a TV station) Black History Month Contest and 1st place in the Baltimore ACTSO competition. He was accepted into the prestigious LEAD Program at Dartmouth and MITE^2S program at MIT, but declined them both to compete in the 2003 National ACTSO Competition for poetry.
However, Preston is driven by service. Ever since he was selected as his school’s representative in the Hugh O’ Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY) Maryland conference and his state’s representative in the HOBY World Leadership Congress, he has been motivated to give back to his community. Hence, last year he founded the HOBY Baltimore County Community Leadership Workshop (CLEW), a one-day seminar that exposes high school sophomores to leadership and volunteerism. As chairperson, he is involved in all aspects of the CLEW’s planning and execution. He also volunteers weekly at the Randallstown Library as a Community Storyteller and for five hours each Sunday at Northwest Hospital. What ultimately motivates him? “The desire to enrich both my life and the lives of others.”