Colin Luther Powell was born to Luther and Maud Powell on April 5, 1937 in Harlem, New York. To Colin’s father, education and faith were very important to him. Luther was very active in church and served as a senior warden, an important leader in his parish. Colin’s mother, Maud, was also hard working and religious. In addition to working at a clothing factory. She also helped out at home and volunteered in church.
In school Colin was well liked and had a lot of friends. He was a cooperative student but his grades weren’t the greatest. He worked just hard enough to pass to the next grade; nothing seemed to interest him very much. Colin graduated high school with a C overall average. Colin attended college at CCNY where the tuition was only $10 a year while NYU charged $750 a year. During his freshman year of college, Colin was not yet sure what to major in. But at the urging of his mother, he decided to major in engineering. the field of engineering held little interest for Colin. He neither had the natural ability or motivation to develop the skills necessary to make a career out of it.
In the fall of 1954, Colin changed his major from engineering to geology. He thought that geology would be easier for him, but it wasn’t. He might’ve never made it through college if it hadn’t been for a life changing discovery he made during his first semester. One day on campus, he saw a group of young men in uniform; they were cadets in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. ROTC prepares students for future military service. As a cadet, Colin learned basic infantry tactics, army procedures, and rifle marksmanship.