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  Name:   Shearwood McClelland III
Month: May 2003
Schools: Harvard, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons BA, '00, MD, in progress ('04)
Organization: N/A
Title: Life Master in chess, Medical Doctor-to-be

My name is Shearwood "Woody" McClelland III and I have been fortunate enough to compile one of the most storied chess careers in history with four national and 11 state championships. I am blessed to be the son of Doctors Shearwood J. McClelland and Yvonne S. Thornton, who met as students at Columbia Medical School, and are both high-profile doctors now married 28 years. I am also proud to have a younger sister, Kimberly, who is a Stanford alumnus and was the first black woman to win a national chess championship. I am thankful for my family who has always been supportive of my chess career and has encouraged me to balance my chess with my studies and other extra-curricular activities.

I learned the game of chess at the age of seven with the help of my outstanding teacher, Aviv Friedman. Encouraged by my supportive family and my teacher and driven by my own desire to become a national champion, I began to rapidly improve. In 1993, I won my first national chess championship as I tied for first place at the National Junior High School Chess Championship held in Rosemont, Illinios.

In 1994, I became the first black person to win more than one national title after winning the National 11th Grade Championship, held in Orlando, Florida. That same year and at the age of 15, I also achieved the title of National Master, awarded to the top 1% of all chessplayers. Equally special for me was that I was selected from among 28,000 eligible people as one of 41 members of the All-American Chess Team. The next year, I captured my third national title by winning the National 12th Grade Championship, held in Syracuse, New York. That made me the first person ever to win both the National 11th and 12th Grade Championships.

My high school career culminated as I won the 1996 National Scholar-Chessplayer Award that is given to the person with the best combination of chessmastery and scholarship. As a result of my high school accomplishments, I was featured that year in both Jet and Ebony magazines.

I was honored to attend Harvard from 1996-2000 where I gained self-confidence and developed my Christian faith, both of which served to strengthen me in the classroom and on the chessboard. In 1997, I won my 4th national title at the United States Junior Open. Later that year and at the age of 19, I became the youngest person ever to win the New Jersey State Chess Championship. I successfully defended my title the next year, then retired from New Jersey chess in 1999 to focus more on my interest in medicine.

In 2000, I graduated from Harvard, Cum Laude in Biology. Since that time, I have invested my heart, mind and spirit in the study of medicine at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons. I am currently a member of the Class of 2004 at Columbia and plan to pursue a career in Neurological Surgery. I pray that God will use my careers in chess and medicine to touch the lives of many. I am thankful for the many blessings in my life, which include my family and the incredible opportunities to pursue chess and academics. I hope that many others will be inspired to utilize the incredible mind that God has given them so that they may reach their maximum potential. Thank you for taking the time to learn about me.





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