Joshua Mannery grew up in house of eight in Jackson, Mississippi with his older brother, younger twin brothers, another younger brother, a sister and their parents. As a child, Mannery loved playing video games and reading.

“I was the smart one. The brother before me played sports and was in the band. He was all athletic and everything,” Mannery said. “I was kind of the smart one, and I was always to myself.”

But, Mannery grew out of his shyness as one of the star students at Murrah High School. It was in high school where he began his plight into student government, service and leadership.

“My ninth and tenth grade years, it was about making friends. Between tenth and eleventh grade, I decided I wanted to be student body president,” Mannery said.

He began getting more involved on campus and in the community. He joined the staff of The Pleiades, a literary magazine at Murrah High school, and offered free ACT preparation courses to the community.

Mannery scored a 29 on the ACT in tenth grade. This was the first time he ever took the exam, and he had scored 10 points higher than the national average after no studying or formal preparation for the exam.

“I decided to do ACT workshops and just opened them up to the community. They were free, and I tried to do as many sessions as I could,” Mannery said. “I was really proud of that. I wanted to help others out.”

Sarah Alford Ballard teaches English at Murrah High School and has been teaching for 16 years. The Ole Miss alumna said Mannery was one of her favorite students, calling him “a natural leader” and “civically minded.”

“He was my go-to student to pass out papers, run errands and plan class projects.  We had a mutual respect and trust in each other,” Ballard said. “He was already a leader in his class, but I watched him grow even more into that leadership role the next few years.”

Joshua has a strong relationship with his friends. His girlfriend, LyKymberya Buckner (left), and his friend, Nyah Morgan (right), are both students at the University of Mississippi and help him with his business, Presidential Customs.

During his senior year of high school, Mannery was elected as student body president in 2016. He had accomplished an important goal, but a personal loss changed his family’s life forever.

Mannery’s older brother, Devon Mannery, died in 2016 in a car accident. Devon was 20 years old and was a student at Jackson State University.

“I had to get adjusted to being the oldest brother because that’s a different set of responsibilities,” Mannery said. “I had to get adjusted to being this figure that the rest of the siblings look up to and stepping in, helping Mom out if she ever needed anything.”

Mannery lost his brother in October during his senior year of high school, but he never wavered in his responsibility as student body president.

“It was really hard. I think that was my first experience with a really close death. I think that was probably all of siblings’ first encounter with something like that, so we all dealt with it. We had to stay together. My friends really helped me out,” Mannery said.

He said he has become a better older brother and uses Devon’s memory as motivation to pursue his goals.

“Now, I have a reason to succeed for [Devon] to live the best life I can because he didn’t get to live his [life] out,” Mannery said.

Mannery’s mother, Ste’Sha Mannery, remembers how he stepped up to lead his family through a difficult time, while simultaneously leading the Murrah High School student body.

“When [we] didn’t have the strength, Joshua was our strength,” Ste’Sha said. “At the funeral, Joshua spoke, and I still don’t quite know how he had the strength. He is definitely one of a kind. Sometimes, I don’t think he even realizes just how special he is.”

Now a sophomore at the University of Mississippi, Mannery majors in English and political science and minoring in cinema. In his one year at Ole Miss, Mannery has accomplished what most students never accomplish during their time at the university.

Mannery is a student ambassador for the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, a member of the inaugural Minority Engagement Club in the Honors College, vice president of Men of Excellence, a 2019 Orientation Leader and a senator for the Associated Student Body.

He even started a new student organization, called Cover to Cover, the flagship student group in the English department, and is the owner of a t-shirt business, Presidential Customs. Mannery maintains an intricate balance of time management to stay on top of his game as a student leader.

“I’m really a busy body. During the week, I’m constantly at a meeting or something like that. During the weekend, that’s when I really get to chill. That’s my biggest stress reliever. I’ll play the game or catch up on Black-ish,” Mannery said.

He plans to go to law school and practice civil rights law as a career before shifting to politics to become president of the United States one day. His t-shirt business helps garner support for the future presidential candidate, with each shirt displaying the bold words: #JoshuaManneryForPresident2036.

Even in this endeavor, Mannery’s heart for service shines through. For each t-shirt sold, five dollars will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of America. Mannery plans to donate the money once he reaches a goal of $500, and he has raised nearly half that amount since he began selling online in September 2018.

“I’m fortunate enough to be here today, where I am now, but I’ll never forget where I came from,” Mannery said. “That always reminds me to give back.”

Leave a Reply