Teen Hall of Fame: Marcus Gullatt

Marcus' first year of high school was a little lacking.

He was suspended, constantly in trouble and had a cumulative GPA of 1.67.

"I was just immature and thought I could do whatever I wanted," he said. "I thought I was the big man on campus. I don't know what made me think like that because it's something a little boy thinks about. I decided to fix that."

The next year, the school was introduced to a new Marcus. He decided to make school a serious priority, and really apply himself. It wasn't long before people started to take notice of his new attitude.

With the help of a tutoring program called UPLIFT (Utilizing Positive Leaders to Influence Future Talent), Marcus set some goals. He wanted to do better than his first year of high school and make his family proud.

"A lot of people were behind me, wanting to help," he said. "I was asked to attend tutoring at Project UPLIFT. They helped a lot."

By first quarter, Marcus turned his grades around.

"Seeing these high grades only motivated me to try harder and keep them high," he said.

His attitude toward academic life has changed dramatically, too.

"I like school a lot more than I used to," he said. "I think that part of my problem freshman year was that I went into it with a negative attitude. I didn't care about doing my homework or going to school. I had a problem with doing what people told me, too. I hated authority."

By the end of sophomore year, Marcus had turned his 1.67 into a solid 3.63.

It wasn't long before John Ervin, the executive director for Project UPLIFT, asked him to work there as a tutor for those in need of help.

"I said yes," Marcus said. "I figured I should return the favor to project UPLIFT for helping me. It's pretty cool working there. I can help a lot of kids that are going through the same thing I was. The kids can relate to me, too."

Marcus already is setting his sights on what college he hopes to attend. He's narrowed it down to Dillard University, Fresno State, Louisiana State and any other college he finds that interests him.

So far this year, Marcus has a great start.

"I'm trying to do better than before. This year, I'm really going to focus and try my hardest."

PARENTS: Jai and Michael Gullatt

SIBLINGS: James, 30, Mathew, 25, Michael, 19, and Mariah, 17

HOBBIES: Listening to music

BIGGEST INFLUENCE: Jesse Willard. He is a family friend who used to work with me a lot. He was a lot like a father to me. He helped me focus on school.

LAST BOOK I READ FOR PLEASURE: "I Got Your Back," by Frank Alexander

FAVORITE MOVIE: "The Pursuit of Happyness"

FAVORITE BAND: My favorite rappers are Tupac and Apollo Creed.

BIGGEST FEAR: Failing, and disappointing my mom.

WHAT I'D TELL THE PRESIDENT: Pull the troops out.

ADVICE FOR KIDS: Dream big, don't follow the crowd, and anything's possible.

ADVICE FOR ADULTS: Set an example because kids do what they see adults doing, and don't be a hypocrite.

WHERE I'LL BE IN 10 YEARS: Somewhere in the entertainment business, I hope. I want to be an actor or comedian.

To nominate a student, call 578-2310 or visit