“We have a strong family legacy here. I am the youngest of 10. Nine of the ten graduated from college, and eight of the nine graduated from Jackson State. My oldest sister started the tradition in 1976. I was born in ’75. So I grew up knowing Jackson State. Someone has been here, literally, since I was born. For homecoming, we wore this shirt with all of the siblings who attended.

One sister met her husband here; two brothers met their wives here. I have a niece who was Miss JSU. And I have a son, niece and nephew who are currently enrolled. So it’s deep in family history.

When my oldest sister went to school, there was no money, so Daddy went to the finance office and said, ‘If you give me 30 days, I will come up with what you need.’ Back in 1976, I don’t know how things were set up, but apparently whatever he said worked because my sister graduated. Whether it costs $5,000 then versus what it costs now, I don’t know. But I know he didn’t have it in the beginning. But whatever concessions were made, he got it. I am blessed to say that I was on a full scholarship, so we didn’t have those issues with me.

My mom had an associate’s degree and my dad had a GED. My siblings and I have four advanced degrees and two Ph.D.’s. So I look back on where we came from, and you can’t tell me nothing. We are a walking example of ‘the dream’ and didn’t even know it, realize it, or appreciate it when I was growing up. I think that’s why I love it so much. And maybe that’s part of why I wanted to tell our story. And I’m sure that everyone has a story. Everyone came from something or nothing. But my daddy had a sixth grade education, and he was determined that his children were going to be better than him.

We’re all equally proud. We all love the university. We still buy season tickets, attend games and participate in the alumni chapters for our various cities. We support. I absolutely would not be where I am if not for my JSU experience, and I think I can speak that same sentiment for all of my siblings.”

– Jimi, JSU Class of 1997 from Indianapolis, Ind.