For communications students entering this new academic year, the challenges ahead may be considerable. And if an extra boost of inspiration is needed, look no further than Jared Council, a recent graduate of Hampton University.
Last May, Council sat among more than a thousand of his peers, absorbing every detail of Hampton University’s 140th Commencement Ceremony at Armstrong Stadium in Hampton, Va. He listened intently as President Barack Obama made history, giving his first commencement address at a historically black university or college as president of the United States. Council didn’t want to miss one detail because he nearly found himself as yet another college dropout statistic.
The youngest boy of 12 children, Council knew he would follow his older siblings and attend college. But Council lost focus his freshman year, finding himself on academic probation. At the same time, his mother lost her job and he struggled to find additional student loans.
In a world where only 36 percent of African-American men who enter college actually graduate, this served as a wake-up call for Council.
Since then, he has received nothing less than an A- grade for six straight semesters, skyrocketing from a 1.9 GPA to a 3.8 GPA. This print journalism major from Yeadon, Penn., credits Hampton University’s small class size and faculty members of the HU Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications for aiding in his ability to believe in his own success. He benefited from the university’s emphasis on strong faculty-student relationships through the mentorship of HU Dean Emeritus Tony Brown, renowned author and commentator for the PBS series “Tony Brown’s Journal.”
He also acknowledges the university’s student policies such as mandatory curfew for freshmen and dress code aided in his ability to refocus. Council told CBS Evening News’ Russ Mitchell, “What I learned from that is my success or my failure … was totally up to me.”
In 2008, he became the first student in the HU Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications to earn a 100 percent near-perfect score on the academic grammar software EGUMPP. In 2009, he competed in the School’s Grammar Bee and spoke at the Assembly for Teachers of English Grammar (ATEG) national conference. Last semester, he traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio, to give a presentation for the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (APPE).
“My favorite part of Commencement was the overwhelming sense of pride and comradery I experienced from my peers,” said Council.
Graduating on Mother’s Day was a huge victory for Council and he enjoyed every minute. “I was excited the whole time,” says Council, impressed with President Barack Obama’s speech. “The message was very relevant; he stressed that you have to go beyond the degree and use your education for social good.”