Charismatic Sharod "Brian" Kelly '12 was successful before attending University College, but he became passionate about his education.

by Brett Spielberg

“It was essential to get a degree even though I was successful without one.”—Brian “Sharod” Kelley ’12

He’s just as charismatic selling a cellular phone as he is the Disney vacation of a lifetime. Whether in Garden City, a store in central Florida or a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, Brian “Sharod” Kelley ’12 demonstrates the same ambition and drive to be successful.

“When I was younger I used to call myself ‘Billionaire Brian,’” Mr. Kelley said. “Pretty quickly I realized that there were too many Brian’s out there, so I decided to go by my middle name—Sharod—but I knew if I told myself that, if I believed it and worked toward it, no matter where I would end up it would be a positive place.”

And he’s been to many places. Mr. Kelley began his undergraduate studies at Alabama A&M and Stetson University. However, by the time he was 20, he was already an established entrepreneur.

Managing a team of more than 150 people in 10 states, Mr. Kelley marketed and sold communication services for home and office use with Excel Telecommunications. Though he worked relentlessly, he still made time to attend classes.

An internship with The Walt Disney Company eventually turned into a full-time position, working in the casting center and human resources. But after switching to sales—selling Disney Vacation Club memberships—he shined. For three and a half years he went on to become a top salesperson, bringing in about $1.2 million annually.

“I got to talk to people from all over the globe. I had the chance to be part of the traveling team and work at the different parks in Disney, all over the country and eventually on the cruise ships across the world.” Mr. Kelley said. “On a cruise you get to build relationships with clientele, sometimes for hours, not just a few minutes like at the park. You have to get people to buy into your brand and with such a big commitment, you become almost like family. You affect people for a lifetime.”

Eventually Disney gave him the opportunity to open up a sales center in Garden City. And after sporadically taking college courses throughout the years, due to his extensive travel schedule, he finally had the opportunity to settle down and earn a degree. With University College’s flexibility and the welcoming campus atmosphere—not to mention the proximity to his job—Adelphi was the clear choice.

“It was essential to get a degree even though I was successful without one,” Mr. Kelley said. “I was really interested in the flexibility of evening courses and the ability to get some credits from career experience, but…the first time I stepped on the campus… it just had a special feeling.”

It was the opportunity Adelphi provided him to study abroad in China that was his most rewarding experience.

“I had never seriously considered it. I thought I was too old for things like that, with a family and a career,” Mr. Kelley said. “Signing up for study abroad was one of the best experiences of my life… seeing a different country and the way that business is done there. Seeing factories making microchips, talking to executives and even being a tourist, it was the best part of my education.”

Currently, Mr. Kelley works as an independent contractor for Cellular Sales, a Verizon Wireless retailer. He provides a concierge-type service, selling phones throughout the central Florida market to an array of different clients.

He said his goal is to “bloom where he’s planted,” and his long-term vision is to work hard now, to reap the rewards later in life. His motto for success has always been “whatever it takes.” And it hasn’t steered him wrong yet.

Want to read more about University College and our alumni, students and faculty? Visit the profiles page to learn more about our successful alumni.

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