Dozens of students, faculty and staff at Queens volunteer thousands of hours annually at Sedgefield Elementary School, as part of a strategic partnership designed to strengthen academic performance. One of those students is sophomore Jalen Jamison.
Jamison mentors two students in the first and third grades — Marquis, 7, and Qwamane, 9. He refers to them as family, and they look up to him as a “Big Brother.” Jamison visits the two boys two or three times a week, at the school, at home, and elsewhere. He attends any teacher meetings the kids may have, and anything else that is important for the students.
He doesn’t seek rewards for doing what he feels is his calling to do.
“There is no such thing as a bad kid,” Jamison says. “Misguided, confused, or even misunderstood, but there has never been, is, or will ever be an existence of a ‘bad kid’ anywhere.”
Jamison says children deserve an equal opportunity not only for necessities like education, but also for a caring relationship with someone who can love, guide, and support them in everything they do. Sometimes, it just takes a person who can acknowledge them.
His interest in mentoring young children and adolescents began when he was in high school in Raleigh, working with after-school programs coordinated through the Boys and Girls Club and the Boy Scouts of America. Many kids in the program were experiencing challenges in school and at home, Jamison says, and positive guidance sets a stage for them to strengthen behavior and develop life skills. A business major, Jamison has plans to begin a club focused on overcoming these challenges. His goal is to ensure that every child knows that they are loved and has someone to look up to.
“Understanding those who have been misunderstood is the best feeling in the world, because I was once in their shoes,” he says.