As a young man, Kevin Rome watched Perry Mason on TV and dreamed of becoming a lawyer, then a judge.
But his experience as a resident assistant as an undergraduate at Morehouse College inspired Rome to train professionally to help students.
This inspiration led Rome to his current position as N. C. Central University’s new vice chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management.
The young Columbus, Georgia native was encouraged by his dorm’s resident director to pursue further education concentrating on working with students.
After receiving his undergraduate degree in English from Morehouse, young Rome went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Georgia in counseling and human development, and then a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin in higher education administration.
Rome’s PhD dissertation, Rome considered the impact of mentoring African-American males on predominantly white campuses, but he knows it is more than getting them to college to graduate as well.
“We plan to start an organization called Student African-American Brotherhood, and once listed, NCCU will be the first HBCU to have a chapter,” said Rome.
But Kevin Rome’s life experience covers much more than academic achievement.
Raised in Decatur, Georgia by a single mother, Rome remembers seeing his mother face struggles while raising him and his four siblings.
“She sacrificed quite a bit for those who went to college,” said Rome.
He said this experience made him a more appreciative person and gave him admiration for women in leadership.
In addition, growing up in a predominantly African- American community where there was hardly any discrimination or exclusion, instilled in him the desire to empower African Americans without excluding others.
“The community was invested in people being successful. The University is the same way,” said Rome.
Rome said that so far, the two major challenges he has faced are that the University’s customer service is not all that it should be and that getting students to understand certain concrete limitations concerning policies and regulations has been difficult.
When identifying these issues, Rome seemed eager to clear up all misperceptions so that he can get to the heart of his job which he describes as enhancing students’ overall experience to make it easier for them to focus on academics.
“I’m here for the students,” Rome said.
“If I’m not here for the students, I shouldn’t be here.
“If a student sees me on campus, I hope they stop me and talk to me so we can get to know each other.”
Rome already recognizes his time at NCCU as among his career highlights.
He said he admires the beauty of the campus, its phenomenal students, diversity, and love from the faculty, staff and the Durham community.
Other memorable moments in the 42-year-old’s career include his first job in California as a coordinator of student development while in grad school, his time as assistant dean of students at UT Austin, and his experience at Morehouse College as vice president of student services.
As he waits for his wife of seven years, Stefanie, and 3-year-old twins Kevin and Kendell, to move to the area, Rome is working hard but making sure maintains a balanced life.
“His commitment to young people is displayed when he interacts with our children,” said Stefanie.
“He’s teaching them the same lessons he would teach any young person: responsibility, commitment and honorability.”
Rome enjoys golf, playing cards (he has already beat several students at Spades), bowling, cooking, traveling, live music, college football and dancing.
“I’m a real person,” said Rome.
“We only have one life and we should live it to the fullest.”