Vernon Howell, a native Floridian, was born just a few miles away at Morton Plant Hospital and grew up in Lakeland. A distinctive graduate of the University of Tampa, he was the oldest in his class of over 800, proving that it’s never too late to achieve academic goals put on hold.
Following a move to Charlottesville, VA, he enrolled in a Citizen, Scholar, Student of Writing program at the prestigious University of Virginia, but then returned to Florida where he earned his BLS (Bachelor of Liberal Studies) with a degree tract in intensive writing at the University of Tampa. It seems he was always destined to pursue a journalistic career, not only writing newspaper articles but also doing interviews for a radio station when only a teen.
In Lakeland, Vernon met a popular radio DJ who needed a summer replacement, and that evolved into his 18-year stint in radio. Through the years, he conducted many interviews with celebrities like Larry Gatlin, George Jones and also Tammy Wynette, who was his good friend and Lakeland neighbor.
An award winning free lance writer and motivational speaker, Vernon is currently developing a short story into a novel-length mystery, a fictitious account, based on historical fact, set in Florida. He also remains involved in radio, last year giving a Grateful Heart series on emPower Radio, where he is a reporter on “30 minutes of totally positive news” at 1 and 6 p.m. Eastern time Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Empower Music & Arts (www.empowerma.com/radio) is “like a little pocket of Posi,” he says and invites others to download the app and “listen on the go.” He especially looks forward to the emPower Posi Music Festival in Tampa Feb. 23-27, noting that “Posi Radio will be there doing interviews and participating in all the fun. We’ll have our own Mardi Gras going on in our room during the pajama jams with many great artists up close and personal.”
Relatively new to UCC, Vernon has quickly, easily assimilated Unity teachings and beliefs, perhaps answering an innate inner calling. He knew, attending Baptist services in his youth, he says, that that path “was not for me.” He first attended a Unity church in Stockbridge, GA. Last year at UCC, he gave a moving presentation of the celebrated writer and philosopher Maya Angelou, who discovered the Unity church in her 20s, and who he considers his mentor.
His presentations here included another 2016 event, featuring the inspiring story of the life and unprecedented achievements of Louis Armstrong. While believing that “a writer’s responsibility is to write,” this people-oriented bachelor enjoys human interaction, as evidenced in his involvement at Unity, working with the tech team, operating the spotlights during concerts and occupying “a great perch for taking pictures.” “This church is my family,” he says. “You’ve all adopted me whether you wanted to or not.”