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Press Release  
Release Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 1:31 PM
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Media Contact:
Sholnn Freeman
Communications Specialist
Actor Lance Gross Traveling to China with Freshman Leadership Academy

WASHINGTON (June 03, 2014) – Alumnus and award-winning actor Lance Gross will accompany 60 students from the Howard University Freshman Leadership Academy (FLA) on an academic and cultural exchange visit to China this summer, July 13-Aug. 3.

Gross is serving as the first global ambassador for the program. Students will examine practices in education, business and leadership and learn about China’s unique culture and history. This year marks the fourth summer FLA students have traveled to China.

“I am very impressed with the Freshman Leadership Academy and honored to serve as its first global ambassador,” said Gross (BFA, ’04). “I wish this program had been at Howard when I was a student. Every parent, teacher, professor, adviser and employer should support making international experiences an essential and affordable component of a well-rounded education.”

Gross was born and raised in Oakland. Despite track and field scholarship offers from several colleges, Gross decided to attend Howard University. He now stars as Secret Service Agent Marcus Finley in NBC's political drama Crisis. He has previously starred in the TBS sitcom Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Gross is a four-time recipient of the NAACP Image Award for best supporting actor. He is also an avid photographer and has recently created “The Homeless and Jordan’s” -- a campaign focused on raising awareness about the large-scale increase of people living in poverty.

While in China, students will visit important economic and historic landmarks such as the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Great Wall of China. They are also scheduled to visit the U.S. consulate and major U.S. companies doing business in China. FLA is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs in conjunction with the Howard University Student Association. This year, students traveling to China raised more than $145,000 through fund-raising efforts.

“The Freshman Leadership Academy’s studies and cultural immersion in Asia builds on Howard University President Wayne Frederick’s vision for expanding Howard’s international footprint and answers the call of President Obama's 100,000 Strong Initiative,” said Constance M. Ellison, Ph.D., interim vice president for student affairs. “Now, more than ever, our world is interconnected. To be successful – personally, intellectually and professionally – you must become a global citizen.”

Ellison said studying abroad would help students develop new perspectives on academic subjects and real-world issues, experience personal growth and develop valuable career skills. She said past trips have strengthened students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills, and led to improvements in personal independence, self-confidence and teamwork.

The Freshman Leadership Academy was established in 2010 and seeks to expose first-year students to the opportunities and challenges associated with student leadership and service. The program is open to all freshman and transfer students. In the past academic year, FLA had more than 450 applicants for 65 positions. Throughout the year, FLA engages students in workshops, case studies and group projects on leadership topics.


Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 30 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University's Web site at

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