Hobson-Powell gave up a fledgling basketball career when he began college three years ago, commuted more than an hour each way from his home in Northwest Washington after transferring last fall from Howard University and once completed 27 credits in a single semester while shuttling between classes at Howard, Montgomery College and the Internet. He will be going to law school in the fall, and possibly to medical school after that.
But Hobson-Powell shatters the stereotype of the socially challenged brainiac who has little interest in the world outside academia. He’s also not a straight-A student.
“He’s twittering too much and playing basketball too much to get a perfect 4.0” grade point average, Dr. Edwin Powell, who teaches at Howard’s medical school, said of the second of his four children.
Hobson-Powell wound up at UB by accident, by passing a booth at Howard promoting the UB law school. When he found out that the school offered an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in public policy, history and psychology, he told his parents he was going to spend his senior year in Baltimore.
“I wanted to go ahead and pursue an education that best exemplified me,” Hobson-Powell said as he waited for the procession of 625 graduates to begin. “I have more than just one interest.”
While he still hangs out with his high school-age friends back in Washington, Hobson-Powell seems comfortable around his counterparts at a school which only four years ago reintroduced a freshman class and whose average graduates tend to be in their late 20s or older.
Hobson-Powell, who started kindergarten when he was “3 or 4,” said that being around older students “is nothing out of the ordinary. “The social interaction is fine — I can interact with 15-year olds as much as I can interact with 21-year-olds or 30-year-olds or older. I’ve been taught to be comfortable in any social setting that I’m in.”
Daniel Katz, a 23-year-old from Owings Mills, said that he met Hobson-Powell in a senior seminar.
“I was struck by how brilliant he was,” said Katz, who graduated Sunday cum laude. “Academically as well as his character, he’s mature on all different levels. A very interesting person, very modest. As intellectually and socially smart as he is brilliant, he’s very down to earth.”