From Savannah to AWOL


From Savannah to AWOL

Discover your path. Chris Middleton ’02 was raised in Moncks Corner, South Carolina. He came to Savannah State to play football as a middle linebacker. At the time, he wanted to be a physical therapist, so he began a biology major. It didn’t fit. He was rather lost. He didn’t have a clear path.

One of Savannah State’s professors, Dr. Charles J. Elmore, saw it and took action.

“Dr. Elmore told me that I was a great student, but that I wasn’t reaching my true potential,” remembers Chris. “He knew I loved to write and pushed me to explore that.”

I wouldn’t be where I am today without Dr. Elmore’s mentorship. This is why I continue to pay it forward.
– Chris Middleton

He did. And graduated with honors and two degrees. He was immediately offered a job as a speechwriter for Savannah’s former mayor, the Honorable Floyd Adams, who encouraged Chris to pursue law school. He did. And he returned to Savannah as an assistant public defender in major crimes. For his clients, Chris is the last line of defense.

But he wanted to be a voice that reached outside of the courtroom and into the community. His goal: help the rising generation discover a positive path full of potential and opportunity.

That’s when he went AWOL.

In 2007, he was appointed Chairman of the Board for All Walks of Life (AWOL), a nonprofit that teaches at-risk youth in Savannah about art and technology, creativity and innovation. In 1997, AWOL started as an informal gathering of poets, musicians, and emcees—all students at Savannah State. From there, it grew into a nonprofit and was officially incorporated in 2004.

AWOL helps kids unlock their creative potential. Open-mic nights. Conflict resolution workshops. A theatre arts program. Digital arts education programs. Film and music production. Even Goon Squad, innovative IT training that teaches kids how to refurbish old computers, which are given to local families in need. For Chris, it’s about helping others find their paths. Just like his Savannah State professors helped him discover his. Seriously Impressive.

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