Jalen Rose Inspires HBCU Students During Fireside Chat Hosted By PUMA, Clark Atlanta University

In a bold and empowering move to support the next generation of thought leaders and change-makers, PUMA, in collaboration with Clark Atlanta University (CAU), recently organized a captivating fireside chat featuring former NBA All-Star and esteemed sports analyst, Jalen Rose. 

The event, held as part of PUMA’s $2 million commitment to CAU, aimed to equip students with the knowledge, tools, and inspiration needed to navigate the post-graduation landscape successfully.

Jalen Rose, whose journey started from humble beginnings to reaching the pinnacles of success, shared his personal experiences and offered invaluable advice on overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities.

Reflecting on his early years, Rose humorously recounted being “hazardous to his own health” as a product of an inner-city upbringing, where perseverance and determination became his guiding lights. “Sports, education, work ethic, and discipline,” Rose emphasized, “I always felt like those things were going to give me a chance to be successful.”

Rose’s journey from the streets of Detroit to the NBA spotlight was driven by a relentless pursuit of excellence and a willingness to embrace multiple avenues for growth. From odd jobs like shoveling snow and working a paper route to academic achievements like making honor roll, Rose remained perseverant on his journey. 

In a poignant moment, Rose reflected on setbacks and challenges encountered on the road to success. Drawing inspiration from the iconic film Rocky, he emphasized the importance of resilience and the ability to weather life’s storms. “It’s not about how hard you hit,” he reminded the audience, “but how you get hit and keep on going.”

During the fireside chat, Jalen Rose also emphasized the power of kindness when navigating life’s complexities. 

“Be kind to people. It’s ok to say please. It’s ok to say thank you. It’s ok to say excuse me. That’s the secret sauce right there, being kind to people,” Rose said. “Master all of the things that don’t cost you any money. Being on time, your body language, your attitude, your firm handshake, your fashion. Everything that people are going to judge you by before you even open your mouth. It’s going to happen, especially if you’re Black. So now, eliminate that.” 

Chief Johnson, Lead Entertainment Marketing Executive at PUMA, echoed Rose’s sentiments. During the PUMA panel he stressed the importance of being equipped with the tools to thrive.

“That’s something we need to teach more. I can open the door for you but I haven’t given you the tools so that once you’re inside of that room, you can maintain the relationships. To put in the work. To be on time. To somebody who can be a constant ear or soundboard,” Johnson said. “Make sure when you’re putting all the prep work in and you’re learning all of the different things in the industry, also practice how you’re going to facilitate it and how you’re going to stay in the room once you get in there.” 

Rose enlightened students about his own school, the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, and the efforts it pours into the next generation. 

“When people come to support inner city Black kids, they do it when you’re small. Because they don’t see you as a threat. Fifteen or sixteen, society doesn’t see us as cute and cuddly anymore,” Rose said. “ I wanted to help high school aged students because I feel like they were the least served. I’m not a part of a network, I’m not a part of a feeder school, I’m not politically driven. I literally wanted to create one of the best schools in my neighborhood that’s a public school for young people to go to.”

He underscored the fact that the job isn’t done after high school, it’s really just the beginning. 

“The trick that’s being played is that the job is done after high school. You go to high school graduation, everybody’s cheering, crying and throwing hats in the air. But news flash, you can’t get a job at McDonald’s with a high school diploma. The job ain’t done. So I created this charter school,” Rose said. “We call it the nine through sixteen model. I have 400 plus that are currently in high school but I have another 700 alums that I support through secondary education.  Whether that’s a two year college, four year college, trade school, military, or cosmetology. Whatever they choose to do, I’m still here to help them have the resources that they need to put themselves in position. Why are we celebrating graduating high school when the job ain’t done.”  

As the fireside chat drew to a close, students left inspired and empowered, armed with newfound insights and a renewed sense of purpose. PUMA and CAU’s partnership helped to further foster a culture of excellence and opportunity for these students. 

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