Sitting down recently during a cold, winter afternoon, Howard Anderson III was reflecting on his first visit to Dallas Life Foundation, a homeless shelter for men, women and children in desperate need of some assistance.

Still an impressionable teenager at the time, Anderson somehow understood the gravity of the situation, and understood the litany of challenges those families had to endure and the emotional toll that it took on their mind, body and spirit. He also understood that it was his duty to step in and help.

“The first time I went to the Dallas Life Foundation I was in the eighth grade and it was for a project for our school,” Anderson said. “My uncle and his wife used to work there, and they introduced us to it. There were some kids there my age and they were just going through everything.

“I felt like it made me better as a person because seeing other people in different situations and how they depend upon it and how they act in that situation, they were all just treating it like it was a normal day. It made me think about life in a different perspective, about how sometimes I can get ahead of myself and be really spoiled, so I think it helped me become a better person. It made me realize that I was blessed. And I wanted to help out, so every now and then I’ll go back and help out.”

Armed with a new perspective on life, Anderson set out on a path that eventually led him to become one of five recipients of the Dallas Mavericks Scholarship Program.

“Howard was nominated through our partner, Education is Freedom, and was then elected by an internal Mavs selection committee containing members from across the organization,” said Emily Luth, the manager of community relations for the Mavs. “Howard is a wonderful individual who is driven and has been working hard to achieve his college and career aspirations.”

While doing work with the homeless is not something normally on a teenager’s to-do list, even Anderson’s major — Environment Design Architecture – represents sort of a paradigm shift.

“What we do with the major is we think about how we can build a building, but build it safe to the environment,” said Anderson, who is a freshman at Texas A&M. “We come up with different problems and how we can solve them, and by that way we can become a better world and preserve it.”

And how did wanting to become an Environment Design Architect become Anderson’s dream job?

“I was in the seventh grade and my teacher, she assigned a project where we had to find three things we loved and find the best job for us,” he said. “At the time I liked to do math and I liked to draw, and the best thing that came up was architecture, so I did some research on it and I fell in love with it.

“At first I wanted to be an architectural engineer, then I came up with environmental design. It’s really a blessing in disguise and I really enjoy it very much.”

Education has always been at the root of Anderson’s existence. He graduated in the top five percent of his class at South Oak Cliff Collegiate High School where he received a degree in Applied Sciences. He also was a member of the National Honor Society, National Society of High School Scholars, National Society of Leadership and Success, and Mountain View Honor Society, in addition to being an EIF scholar.

“I went to Mountain View my junior and senior years to take college classes,” Anderson said. “I ended up getting my associate degree in Applied Sciences as well so I could transfer it over to my college classes.”

And that’s not all.

“I go to The Exciting Singing Hills Baptist Church in Dallas and I used to volunteer at the (church’s) basketball games,” Anderson said. “I would referee, I would coach, and sometimes I would help in the kitchen. I would do a lot of things.

“Every Thanksgivings and Christmas we’d make little baskets to feed the people around our community.”

In part because of his all-around effort in being an effective member of the community and being in the upper tier of his class, Anderson was well received once his name and resume was presented to the internal Mavs selection committee.

“We are very excited to have him receive our Mavs Scholarship,” Luth said. “He will receive up to $25,000 (based on tuition needs) for the next four years along with a Mavs staff mentor and opportunity for an internship at the Mavs if they so choose later in their college career.”

Anderson, who said his mother — Erica Anderson — is one of his inspirations in life, is appreciative of the Mavs for the financial assistance.

“I want to thank them a lot because without this scholarship I would be $13,000 in debt for the year,” he said. “So they really blessed me and I can’t thank them enough for it. I’m eternally grateful.

“The scholarship will help me and my family, because I have a sister in college and my little brother, he’s starting to go to college in a couple of years. A&M costs a lot of money to go here, so helping me would help lift a burden off my back so I can work harder and focus on academics.”

Anderson’s sister, Francesca, is a senior at Prairie View A&M, and his brother, William, is a freshman at Carter Collegiate High School.

Part of the reason Anderson said he wants to become an architect is because he wants to show kids from his school that they can become anything they put their minds to. He wants to be that leader that walks the walk and talks the talk, and becomes an integral source of inspiration along the way.

“I think I inspire others to do better by just the way I carry myself,” Anderson said. “I know I can have fun and everything, but I know when it’s time to be serious it’s time to be serious, and I take pride in myself in that.

“I get that from my father and my grandpa. I just look up to them, so I try to be like them the best I can be. I take my work very serious, I take my lifestyle very serious and I take my reputation very serious, so I try to reflect that upon others just by the way I carry myself.”

Spoken like a true future environment design architect.

Twitter: @DwainPrice

To learn more about the Mavs College Scholarship Program and meet the other recipients, click here

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