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Apollos Abercrombie, '16
Apollos Abercrombie is a successful corporate business representative and a United States Air Force reservist who enjoys telling people he’s an Auburn man. More so, he enjoys living the life, conquering the lofty expectations, and setting ever-higher goals that he associates with being what an Auburn man means to him.
“Thinking about how Auburn and Harbert College of Business helped change my life sometimes gets me a little misty eyed ”
“Apollos epitomizes the Auburn Creed every day,” Mike Stover, assistant director of employer relations at Harbert College of Business, says in agreement.
Auburn University will be honoring Abercrombie during its Black Alumni Weekend celebration Nov. 12-14, but school officials say it compares little with how Abercrombie has honored Auburn with his continued dedication to the university and especially its students.
“As the grandson of a sharecropper from rural Alabama, and the first person in my immediate family to go to college, thinking about how Auburn and Harbert College of Business helped change my life sometimes gets me a little misty eyed, honestly,” Abercrombie said. “I remember stepping on campus for the first time, nervous and alone, yet hopeful.
“Four years later, I graduated from Auburn with some of my closest, lifelong friends and unforgettable memories.”
Abercrombie, who graduated from Harbert in 2016, today works as respiratory medical sales representative for the company Reckitt, the makers of Lysol, Mucinex and numerous other hygiene, health and nutrition brands. He also serves the country by handling duties as an operations management specialist with the Air Force Reserve.
“People always ask me how I became so successful, and I tell them the stories about when I was at Auburn: I went to almost every career fair, company information session, and guest speaker event I saw because I was so driven and hungry to succeed,” he said. “The reason I bring this up is, at 18, 19, and even 20 years old, like many of us at that age, I didn't know anything about the business world.
“But I was so eager to learn, so I soaked up all the resources Harbert gave us. The best part is, I was not a perfect student or candidate either. I bombed many interviews, fell flat on my face numerous times, and got tons of rejection letters in my job search as a student, but so many of the staff poured into me.
“From what I experienced, Harbert College of Business, to me, was the kind of place that tries its best to help those who help themselves,” Abercrombie said. “So, in some ways, I feel like I was able to experience some semblance of the American Dream because of Auburn University.”
Stover heaped praise on Abercrombie, a native of Maplesville, Alabama, in nominating him for the Black Alumni Awards.
“Apollos has unique maturity and perspective that was immediately apparent when I met him as a sophomore in the Harbert College of Business. As he has continued to grow in his personal and professional endeavors, these traits became even more developed,” Stover said. “He has a special blend of personal drive to succeed with a desire to serve and support others.
“Because of his personality and willingness to help when called upon, Apollos fields many requests to serve. Rarely does he say no, and he always helps with a smile and great attitude.”
Abercrombie serves Auburn University in several formal capacities, but he also works hard to support the institution in more informal ways, Stover said. “He serves in board roles with the Harbert College of Business, the AU Alumni Association, and as a mentor for the Harbert Connects mentorship program.
“Additionally, he is a regular guest speaker for business classes and routinely makes introductions to various business leaders to grow opportunities for careers and internships for Harbert College students.
“Finally, and most notably, Apollos felt the desire to support aspiring college students from his home community. This calling led to founding a nonprofit foundation in 2021 called The Apollo’s B.O.W. Foundation to raise and distribute scholarship funds to students as they prepare to attend college.
“The first recipient of a scholarship from his foundation was recognized in the spring of 2021.”
Abercrombie remembers putting his Harbert studies to work early in his career.
“Thinking back, the first business success story I had, I can attribute to what I learned from my sales professors and mentors through my Auburn education.
“With moving 2,500 miles away from home to Portland, Oregon, for my first job out of college, I had to adapt to a completely different culture, but still ended up being a top performer in my business unit,” he said. “I feel like the hands-on teaching and mentorship from Harbert College of Business really prepares us to face any business challenges head on.
“The biggest business success story so far has to be starting a nonprofit organization in 2021.
“Even in a small capacity, being able to change students' lives and put them on a path to chasing their dreams is very meaningful. So, to go from $0 in February to awarding a $2,000 scholarship, a $500 scholarship, and a separate $1,000-a-year scholarship commitment to Harbert College of Business students, all within less than a year, has been one of the most fulfilling things I've been able to do in my 27 years on this Earth,” he said.
Auburn University remains and always will be an important and emotional part of his life, Abercrombie said.
“You would be surprised at how many new friendships and partnerships you can make not only for yourself, but also for your career just by staying involved with Auburn,” he said. “The inspiration I would like to share is a quote from Muhammad Ali that is my life's mission and encompasses my charity to Auburn. It can also be found on my nonprofit's website.
“Muhammad Ali says: ‘I'd like for them to say he took a few cups of love, he took 1 tablespoon of patience, 1 teaspoon of generosity, 1 pint of kindness. He took 1 quart of laughter, 1 pinch of concern, and then, he mixed willingness with happiness, he added lots of faith, and he stirred it up well, then he spread it over his span of a lifetime, and he served it to each and every deserving person he met.’”
Abercrombie said he likes that recipe, and that he intends to use it and teach it to other Auburn alumni for many years to come.