Robert Matthew Bell III is the eldest Teen School Board Representative for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship Academy (IDEA) at James W. Fannin. Now in his second year on the board, he was recently inducted into the National Honor Society, is also a member of the school’s National Academy Foundation Advisory Board, and has been on student council since his freshman year, when he was president.
A former charter school student, Robert chose to attend Dallas ISD’s IDEA for high school and says, “It was one of the best decisions I’ve made. I was able to meet people in the fields that interest me – marketing and real estate. And I was able to participate in many activities at my school. It helped me get out of my comfort zone. Even my thought patterns have changed since I joined IDEA.
He shares that one of the challenges he faces is being stereotyped due to his physical appearance and zip code. Because he is 6-foot-3, some people’s first impression is that he is an athlete, not a scholar.
“I never wanted to be seen as a project or a stereotype. Yes, I am a young African American male from a single family home and live in a predominantly black, middle class neighborhood. Because of my physical appearance, I am often asked if I play football or basketball. The answer is no. I chose to focus on academics and develop a more holistic outlook on life. I want to break the stereotype that all tall black men have to exercise. I want to rewrite this narrative so that when people see me, instead of an athlete, they see an intelligent African-American man destined for excellence.
An IDEA ambassador and member of the school’s recruiting team, he is also a member of his school’s NAACP, participates in UIL (University Interscholastic League) events and public speaking, and sits on the Dallas ISD Safety and Security Task Force. He is a former member of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) and an active community volunteer. Taking IDEA’s mission to develop young entrepreneurs to heart, Robert and a classmate started a t-shirt business in their second year, writing the business and marketing plan, managing social media accounts and meeting potential partners, investors and mentors.
Robert attributes his success to his family. “My mother keeps me anchored with words of encouragement and affirmations. My mother, my late grandmother, and family elders instilled in me the importance of being a man of honor and integrity; d to be a person of your word; to believe in something bigger than yourself, to know who you are and to whom you belong. They made sure that I understood the value of education and its importance in our I also learned the importance of giving back and just doing the right thing because it’s good.
After being accepted to over 25 colleges and universities, Robert chose to attend the University of North Texas at Denton, where he will major in marketing with a minor in African American studies. Her goal is to join the marketing team of a major airline, real estate, or social media/tech company upon graduation. He hopes to one day develop his own community outreach organization so he can have a positive impact on the community where he grew up.
In his spare time, Robert enjoys music, writes poetry, explores landscape photography, and spends time with family and friends.