Surrounded By Despair, Young Student Finds a Path to Success

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The second chance at life proved to be a huge motivator. Getting anything lower than a grade of B is unacceptable to the business major. “Business is involved in every aspect of your life,” the 25 year old said.

With four classes to go until graduation, Paddie is excited. He said distractions are everywhere for college students and classwork is demanding.  At times, he said, he literally cried while studying, not understanding a subject or the professors. He’d meditate and asked the Creator for understanding.

“Finance, Ratios and Stats are tough courses, “he admitted.

“Jamal was a great student, he has an incredible analytical mind, incredible thirst for knowledge and he’d be a fantastic lawyer, or great at whatever profession he chooses,” said Judge Robert Rigsby, who taught Paddie at Bowie State.

And while his academic career seems to be moving in the right direction, there remain serious challenges.

While studying one night in September, he received a call that his childhood friend, Matthew Bovell, who was like a brother to Paddie, had been murdered. Devastated, Paddie offered to serve as a pall bearer.

Paddie said such violence against black men confirms what people of other races want to believe about African American men – that they are thugs. He is determined to reverse that image.

“Black men are supposed to be negative hustlers, according to society,” he says.  He reminds his friends what they’re capable of, and that he was miraculously given a chance to help others.  Paddie, who also has been shot at multiples times, encourages African American men to raise their standards.

While Paddie is interested in the hotel industry and hopes to eventually earn a doctorate, he said his primary interest now is teaching young black men.

Philosophically, Paddie said, education is vital, teaching is vital and that a good teacher will create great students. But more importantly, he said, parents are our first teachers.

His mother, JoAnne Williams, a registered nurse, is elated that she stuck by her son through the tough years.  “The future is getting brighter for us, and Jamal is living his dream.”

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