Black History Month – The Wesleyan Way: Michael Wade ’80

Growing up in the tiny Muhlenberg County, Ky., community of Drakesboro, Michael Wade knew at an early age he wanted to attend college. He also knew without a shadow of a doubt what school he would attend.  

Michael was indoctrinated in The Wesleyan Way when he was young. His father, Erskine L. Wade attended KWC and his sisters Pam (Wade) Watkins ’77 and Kathy Wade ’85 are alumni. 

A student at KWC from 1976-1980, Michael had several mentors who encouraged him, and he credits his accounting professor, Ms. Jerry Trinkle, with being the most influential. “She inspired and challenged me.” 

Being a Black student in the late 70s was a different experience than those of students today. Michael stated. “When I enrolled at KWC, the Black Student Union was not functioning, and I did not have a consensus to reactivate the organization.  I remember no culture outlets for minorities.” Black KWC students today have many resources including the Office of Equity and Inclusion. These avenues are an excellent way for our Black students to obtain the necessary leadership and direction to grow and develop into positive and powerful individual leaders who can lead on the KWC campus. It also empowers them to go back to their own communities and become vital parts of our rapidly changing culture.  

The lack of a diverse cultural experience did not diminish his drive to pursue and achieve excellence in his study of choiceaccounting. He graduated in 1980 and then obtained his MBA from Webster University and a master of accounting from Florida Atlantic University.  

His long educational journey has served him well. His first job was as a member of the U.S. Army. He climbed the ranks and finished his Army career as an officer.  His favorite quote from his time in the military is eight simple words: “No mission too difficult, no sacrifice too great.”   

After the Army, he became a leader in his profession, wearing many hats in his chosen field of accounting. Two of the most notable include being an accountant for UPS and being named the director of the prestigious School of Accountancy at the University of Louisville. 

Michael enjoyed his time as a student at KWC, and he says his most cherished Wesleyan times have surprisingly come after his time as a student. “Connecting with alumni who graduated before and after me has been special. Being in the skybox at Homecoming, playing golf and attending alumni events stand out to him when he thinks of Wesleyan. During Homecoming weekends, you can find Michael at most of the events. Personally, I have spent time with him walking together during The Wesleyan Way 5K and have spent many days and evenings with him in the skybox watching Homecoming football games.  

A wonderful leader for Black students and alumni alike, Michael added a great piece of advice during our talk about his time at KWC. “Embrace memories and ownership of a KWC future by giving your time, talents and resources.” These are wise words that benefit not only our Black students of KWC, but students of all nationalities. 

 Written by C. Shaun Williams ’00

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