Jammal, 29

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I was ashamed of myself and my life. I have a little brother two years younger than me who completed high school and went to college. A few of my friends had also finished high school and were moving on. I didn’t even have a high school diploma. It was hard to find employment. I didn’t think there was any way to succeed if you were a product of Newark because all of the men in my area were drug dealers and working at supermarkets for $7.50 an hour. 

This is how Jammal, a 2004 YBN graduate, describes his life before discovering YBN.

It was his mother who encouraged Jammal to apply to the program. One day, she saw someone handing out YBN fliers, and wanting her son to do better, brought one home.

When Jammal visited YBN, he was more than a little surprised. “I saw that there were other black men with some type of swagger [confidence] who were also successful.”  Although the program was a challenge – “from beginning to end” says Jammal – having role models like YBN’s Executive Director Robert Clark, and Program Director, Darrell Price, inspired him to finish. “They gave me something to look forward to.”

Since graduating, Jammal has worked to capitalize on all that he’s learned. He currently works as a successful real estate agent and also helps people with special needs, a role he embraced after interning as a teacher at YBN. “When I was at YBN, I helped start a weekend class for people to get extra help for their GED. The teacher suggested that I come back and intern as a teacher. So I did that for a year. And it made me feel comfortable to teach after I left the program.”After working primarily with youth for three years, he now helps adults up to age 45, develop daily living skills and increase their job readiness.

Says Jammal, “I learned that in order for young men to even grasp an understanding of what success is, you definitely need strong male role models.” Noting his persistence and passion for transforming his life and helping those in need, it’s clear that Jammal is someone other young men can look up to.