Moving on Up: Glenn Stearns ’87

TU has sparked countless innovators. This is the story of one: Glenn Stearns. 

Glenn Stearns

Perhaps you know Glenn Stearns from “Undercover Billionaire,” the reality TV show on which he turned $100 into a $1 million barbecue business. Or maybe the name Stearns Lending rings a bell; he founded the company, which became a billion-dollar behemoth. 

But there’s much more to Stearns than just big numbers. His wild success was hardly preordained. Born to alcoholic parents, his childhood was a struggle. He was diagnosed with dyslexia, failed fourth grade and became a teenage father. But things started to turn around for him at TU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics. He started Stearns Lending and has been a titan in the industry ever since. This year, he pledged $500,000 to establish the Stearns Second Chance Scholarship Program at TU. 

“There’s a saying, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,’” he says. “It’s about finding hungry people that say, ‘I’m ready.’ And when you’re ready, there should be people around who say, ‘Let me help you.’ I want to be one of those people.”