Wesley Bishop '95: Rising to the Top and Helping Others Do the Same
Wesley Bishop has always been a fighter, pushing through adversity and rising above. He was born and raised in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans, Louisiana, a neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Wesley’s work as an educator and motivational speaker is that much more vital in the hurricane’s wake. “There aren’t many folks who can venture out of the Lower Ninth, and I want to transfer that opportunity to as many people as possible.”
Prior to his years at Ohio State, Wesley attended Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO), a historically black college, for his undergraduate education. While there, he served as student body president and began his motivational speaking career. Upon earning his B.S. in Criminal Justice, Wesley went to the University of Mississippi and finished first in his class, earning a Master’s degree in public administration.
Wesley notes that he was the first SUNO alumnus to attend what is now
the Moritz College of Law. In law school, he knew that he wanted to work
not only in education, but he also wanted “to return and use my
legal education to make an impact on my hometown.” As such, he has
served on the Board of Directors of the Louis Armstrong International
Airport and he currently serves on the New Orleans Criminal Justice Council
and on the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee.
Having occupied various roles in higher education, Wesley currently serves his alma mater as Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at SUNO. In this capacity, he is the youngest senior level administrator in the history of the institution. He is also a practicing attorney with Spears and Spears Law Firm. His experiences at OSU profoundly affected him, and each fall he brings a group of SUNO students to visit OSU. “I appreciate the education that I received,” he says, “and I seek to encourage others to attend.” Wesley has always had “a real eye for students and the issues that they’re going through, because I’ve been through them, too.” His awareness of these issues only heightened after a tragic day two years ago.
August 29, 2005—the day that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans—forever
changed the lives of every city resident. Wesley explains that his school
“took on 12 feet of water. There is a sister campus in Baton Rouge,
and we all moved there a week after the storm. We had to put our classes
online.” His house and most of his family members' homes where flooded
or destroyed. Shortly thereafter, the Federal Emergency Management Agency
decided to build a temporary campus for SUNO while they were repairing
the damages wrought by the storm. SUNO had vacant adjacent land, where
approximately fifty trailers for faculty and administrative offices, as
well as classrooms, were constructed. “We moved there on Valentine’s
Day 2006. There were also 400 residential trailers. Many of my colleagues
are still rebuilding their homes while we rebuild our university,”
Wesley and his wife Shannon - also an attorney practicing in the area of workers’ compensation – decided that although New Orleans was still in rebuilding mode, they still wanted to get married in their hometown. “Anyone who has spent anytime in the crescent city knows that in spite of what has happened, there is no place like New Orleans,” she states. They were wed in July 2006 and recently celebrated their first anniversary.
Wesley’s array of accomplishments, including being named one of Ebony magazine’s top 30 young leaders in the country and receiving the Distinguished Alumni Award from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), constantly inspire his students. As a speaker he has had the opportunity to address hundreds of audiences across the country with his message of faith, personal empowerment and academic excellence; he keeps a collection of every one he’s given.
He is preparing his first book, aptly titled “Come Out Swingin’: Wit and Wisdom Learned from My Family, Friends and Foes,” in which he seeks to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to defy the odds and never settle for less than their best. “I know a little something about overcoming obstacles and making it against the odds,” he says. Wesley is thankful for his opportunity to support and nurture others. “Education is where my heart is,” he says. “It’s my ideal job and I would wake up every day and do it without being paid.”
Wesley T. Bishop can be reached at 504.286.5325.