There’s something about Winston.
Maybe it’s the kindness, the politeness, the smiles – a relic, he says, from his Southern upbringing. Maybe it’s the way he combines strict with cool, modern with old-fashioned, alternating seamlessly between the serious professor and the joking friend, between Converse sneakers and a suit and tie. It could be his excitement when he talks about his students, his passions, his work – as a teacher, musician, marketing guru, model, and social influencer.
Or maybe it’s that, by being authentic, and open, and genuine, Winston Warrior allows others to be authentic, and open, and genuine. And if he had a superpower, it would be just that – lifting others up and encouraging them to be their best selves.
It’s fitting, then, that Warrior, B.B.A.’93, M.B.A.’96, has returned to the University of Miami – the place he credits for determining who he became as an adult – to help shape the next generation of leaders.
From the very beginning, Warrior, whose social media following knows as #thedopeprofessor, was a leader. “From my earliest memories,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be the best I can be.” His mom always made him believe that he could achieve anything. He was top of his class and drum major at his Atlanta high school, and when the time came, he went to UM on a full scholarship.
There, he studied international finance and marketing, but his contributions went far beyond the classroom. He was the first African-American vice president of student government, a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, United Black Students, and a singer in the Inspiration Concert Choir. The running joke, he says, was that he attended more meetings than classes.
Today, that may be true. He’s come full circle, serving as an advisor to the organizations he was a member of as a student, as well as helping to create new ones. Warrior acts as a guide to the students, nudging them gently in the right direction. “It’s their organizations to run,” he says, “and if you do everything, they don’t receive the life lessons that they need to learn like I learned.”
His dedication is evident, whether he’s teaching a media class on encouraging creativity in the workplace, or he’s on the set of The Culture, a UMTV show highlighting the black experience, for which he’s an advisor. You can find him on the sidelines there on Tuesday nights, observing, commenting briefly when needed, welcoming new students and laughing with old ones.
Through his work in and out of the classroom, Warrior wants to educate and inspire, sharing the lessons he’s acquired over the course of a life filled with achievement, challenges, faith, and fear.
The first of these lessons? Let go of that fear. While a student at UM, Warrior joined an R&B group called Lo’ Profile. When a recording deal fell through, he says it was fear that kept him from continuing. “Because I was such an overachiever,” he says, “everyone expected me to go far, to be CEO, and not a starving artist.” He wants to show students that it’s okay to follow other paths. “Thinking about what you’re expected to do keeps you from pursuing your dreams,” he says.
But, he adds, it’s never too late. After over a decade in corporate marketing, during which he garnered a series of marketing and advertising awards, Warrior quit to go back to music. “My 40th birthday party was a listening party for Lifeology 101,” he says. The album was his first as a solo R&B artist. One track peaked at #27 on the Billboard Adult R&B song chart.
Warrior is now a lecturer at the School of Communications and Communications and Marketing Strategist for the School of Education & Human Development. He is also a current faculty representative of the UM Alumni Association Board of Directors and a member of Iron Arrow, the highest honor attainable at the university. He is the founder of Vintage Consulting & Entertainment, a consulting firm that assists clients with the brand vision and market-specific sales approaches.
“I love what I do,” he says. “I really do. I mean I love what I do. And it’s so thrilling to just be in this position.”
His parting lesson? “Keep moving.”