• 54°

Tomorrow’s leaders: Montrel Tennessee

There is nothing stopping Montrel Tennessee — not in his mind, at least.

While many successful high school seniors are planning which college they want to attend, Tennessee is light years ahead of all that.

He’s already planning his graduate school application.

“In five years, I want to be at MIT,” Tennessee said. “It’s the top technical school in America. That’s where I want to go.”

Tennessee found an early passion for computer information systems.

“I like the way technology helps us achieve and how it makes life so much easier,” the Nansemond River High School senior said.

By the end of his freshman year, Tennessee was attending the Governor’s School for Technology to further his studies in electrical engineering. During his sophomore year, he was one of the only underclassmen in the district participating in technical student competitions.

After transferring to Nansemond River in his junior year, he became a leader in the Technical Students of America.

“I’ve always been interested in technology,” he said. “I keep finding more interesting things to learn and study.”

Tennessee hopes that interest in technology will help him meet and work with some of the biggest names in the business.

“I want to work with Bill Gates,” he said. “When it comes to technology, he went from nothing to something. He created it. I would love to work with him.”

In the meantime, however, Tennessee has kept busy working alongside others who are not yet multi-billionaire computer whizzes.

Tennessee serves as the vice-president of his senior class. Considering he transferred to the school just the year before, he knew he had to make a concerted effort to serve the school.

“I knew I blended in with the kids so well, and I knew I would help make a difference so I decided I would run for V.P., and I won,” he said. “I like having a role in student body.”

Tennessee said he hopes to continue work in student government in college, and said he has learned a great deal about working with all sorts of different people while trying to achieve a common goal.

“I like working with all kinds of people,” he said. “It’s fun.”

He said he hopes his classmates and friends learn two lessons from his life: Focus on your grades and be yourself.

“It’s like I tell my little brother, ‘If you have the grades and you’re trying hard, you can go anywhere,’” Tennessee said. “People get too worried about girls or partying or whatever. If you’re smart and get good grades or are a little athletic or a little funny, the girls will come. Just be yourself. High school is a lot of fun. So work hard and enjoy it.”