Graduate Spotlight Jammal

Jammal, 29


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.


YBN Takes a Trip to Ghana

YBN Students with Eric Holder


Many YBN students have never ventured beyond their respective communities. With the majority being low-income, busy supporting their families, and focused on achieving their educational and workforce goals, having the opportunity to explore other cultures is often a costly luxury. But on June 28th, YBN students found themselves over 5,000 miles away in Ghana – through a live video exchange at O'ia-da International’s Akoma Ntoso Cultural Center.


YBN students and students enrolled at a private school in Cape Coast – one of Ghana’s most historical cities – made small work of painting a picture of their everyday lives. Each group talked about where they shop, eat, and have fun, and the similarities and differences in their individual cultures. YBN students were also treated to a song and dance performance that allowed them to witness, firsthand, the vibrancy of Ghanaian culture.

Ghanaian Performance

In their reflections, YBN students shared their new perspectives on African culture. Anthony Green wrote, “It gave me an eye opening look at…how we judge one another by what we see on television, and what we hear. But it pretty much seems like we live…alike in many ways, but in different countries. They pretty much have the same kind of life styles we live, but they really move strong as a community and they really value what they have.” Hadiyyah Muse expressed a similar sentiment. “I learned a lot about the people in Ghana. I will never think differently about another country just because somebody says it.” YBN students got the chance to cross cultural borders – without ever having to leave “Brick City.”


O'ia-da International, Inc. is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that utilizes state of the art videoconferencing technology to connect students with students in Africa.