Kenny Glenn ’19, MBA ’19 represents mother’s homeland Honduras in professional track and field

By Jesús F. Jiménez, assistant director of digital content

Kenny Glenn ’19, MBA ’19 visited Honduras for the first time earlier this year.

The trip to his mother’s native country was the latest life-changing experience for the track and field standout whose name is atop Miami University’s record book.

Originally a basketball player, Kenny didn’t even compete in track and field until his senior year at Mount Healthy High School. Today, he’s combined his love for the sport with his cultural identity, representing the country of Honduras as a professional long jumper.

Kenny’s Miami Experience was shaped by the Kappa Alpha Psi Scholarship, aimed at retaining students from underrepresented and minority populations.

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Kenny reflects on his journey from Miami to representing his mother’s home country in the sport he has grown to love.

“Beside me being a Black American, I’m also a Honduran,” Kenny said. “I can go to Honduras and see my family, where my mother grew up, where my grandfather grew up.”

‘Another piece of land I can call my home’

After graduating from Miami, Kenny moved to Atlanta to train under Olympic gold medalist Dwight Phillips and work as a financial strategist at The Business Hospital. Kenny has represented Honduras in several professional track meets, including the Central American Championships in Costa Rica. He has yet to compete in Honduras, due in part to the pandemic, but it’s one of his goals.

Kenny’s mother had not been back in about 17 years, but returned in March to celebrate her 50th birthday. She invited her son to see where she grew up.

“It was an amazing experience, absolutely beautiful – kind of eye-opening,” Kenny said.

“It’s a literal amazing feeling to know that there’s another piece of land that I can call my home.”

Reaching new heights – and lengths

When Kenny started thinking about college, he considered playing a lower-level college basketball. When his high school track coach discovered his talent, however, new doors opened.

“The track coach saw me in the gym dunking and said, ‘You might as well come out and do high jump,’” he said.

After making it to state in high jump and long jump, Kenny contacted multiple coaches within the Mid-American Conference. Miami was one of the few schools who guaranteed him a spot on the team, but Kenny’s parents left the decision up to him – with one piece of advice:

“‘It’s always best to go where you’re actually wanted and needed,’” he said. “So I ended up going to Miami University for track as well as academics.”

The bond and the brotherhood

Greek life wasn’t on his list – at least not initially – but the Kappa Alpha Psi mission attracted him.

“I was pretty hesitant my first couple years but said, ‘Man, this is something I have to do,’” Kenny said. “I wanted to be connected to something that is historically Black.”

Kenny’s first experience at Miami was a night on campus through the Bridges Program, started by Kappa Alpha Psi brothers Doug Banks ’81 and Wayne Dancie ’81, to attract students from historically underrepresented populations.

Since 2011, the fraternity has awarded six scholarships annually, plus 10 every decade in honor of the fraternity’s 10 founding members.

“It’s very important for us to help people to bridge that gap so that they can continue on with their journey,” Doug said. “We’re very proud to have a scholarship in our name and help out students.”

It was also through the fraternity that Kenny connected with former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who became a member while at the University of Central Florida.

During a trip to Florida, Kenny visited the House of Athlete, created by Marshall and Chad Ochocinco Johnson.

“I was able to message Marshall and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on, NUPE? I’m in town, would love to come and train,” Kenny said. “And he said, ‘Absolutely you can!’ So, went up there and it was like I knew him my whole life.”

Working with ‘a literal legend’

While his high jump potential is what initially caught his coach’s attention, Kenny has been most successful in the long jump. In 2019, he set Miami’s long jump record (25 feet, 7 1/4 inches), breaking a 17-year mark and qualified for nationals three times. During his senior year he started exploring the possibility of competing professionally when he qualified for the USA Indoor Championships.

Kenny reconnected with an old friend, Ryan Billian of the University of Buffalo, who has now a professional athlete.

“I talked to him and he said, ‘Yeah, my professional life is great,’” Kenny recalled. “’If you were to go professional, you have the opportunity to be coached under Dwight Phillips.’”

During his first year at Miami, Kenny had actually met Phillips, an Olympic long jump gold medalist in 2004 who also has five other world championships. Funny thing is, Kenny had no idea.

“I didn’t know who he was, but everyone was getting his signature, so I was like, ‘Why not get a signature from a guy they said won the Olympics,’” Kenny said.

“I ended up Googling him, was like, ‘Man, this guy is a literal legend.’”

The next goal

At The Business Hospital, Kenny helps small-business owners make sound business decisions. He likens his career to his performance on a track.

“Every meet that you go to, you’re trying to do your absolute best,” he said. “You may compete once a month or twice a month, but every time you could get paid at a track meet, or that performance could lead to eventual sponsorships.”

Kenny’s recent trip has offered a new perspective on life.

Maybe one day he’ll get to jump in the sand competitively in his mother’s home country. For now, he’s embracing his culture through the sport that he loves.

“For a kid that wasn’t expected to go to Miami or do track, to come in and have a record that will probably stand for a little while,” he said. “It’s pretty amazing.”