Yeah, I remember the crew you had coming in your freshman year. It was definitely a Jersey thing. You seemed more tense about life back then. What advice would you give 2005 Jerome?
Yes, I was definitely tensed back then and always on edge. I think just growing up in Jersey I've always wanted to be aware of my surroundings. It taught me always to be on my P's and Q's and never get caught slipping. I guess which essentially would lead me to always be tense. The advice I would give my 2005 Jerome, would be to save my college refund check haha!
New Jersey and You
You grew up in New Jersey. What about your hometown shaped the person you see in the mirror today?
Well, I'm from Somerville New Jersey. That place taught me so much. I've always had a great support system growing up. I really feel like that helped shape me into the person I am today. Growing up, there were not many success stories coming from my neighborhood. I knew I wanted to beat the odds and set goals for myself at a young age.
Really what sort of goals?
The first goal was to get up out of Jersey! Gang violence, drugs, and stupid activity, all that was common growing up in an urban community. Creating my legacy was important and I knew I had to leave New Jersey to do it. Leaving and attending Virginia State University was one of the best decisions in my life. I wanted to use that opportunity to help change the status quo in my community, to show cats that college was a cool place to go you know? You didn't have to drop out of school and sell drugs.
You hear a story like this all the time. It is sort of like unless you're truly awake, the system will drag you down. Deciding to not get dragged yourself, did you feel as though you could lift others up as well?
Over the years while attending State, I realized that I had a duty to give back to my neighborhood. For almost 10 years now, in summer I throw a Back to school event where we give away over 500 book bags to families in need. It's become this big event now where people look forward to it every year. People really look up to me there as if I'm some famous athlete or celebrity because I've always given back and never forgot where home is. But again that just goes back to my statement before of having that support from my hometown and family. Jersey now? I love it there! It taught me to hustle, how to be a man, and that I can overcome any obstacle that life may throw at me.
I've always admired that part of you. I remember sending you some supplies one year. I should have nine more donations in my book for you. I'll try to make that up to you.
The Little Tike
Let's talk about your daughter and your fiancée. Tell me about baby girl?
My daughter is 4 years old and I just love her to death. I believe she was a blessing in disguise that God has sent me. She teaches me so much about myself every day. Being a father is great. My father was in my life growing up and unfortunately, I've seen what can happen if a child is raised without their father. I vowed that I will be in my child's life no matter what. If I couldn't wake up to see my daughter, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'm humbled by her daily. I think the most important thing she's taught me and changed is my perspective on life.