Every seed that is planted will grow if it is nurtured and tended with care, and it is known what the end result will be. In 2007, Johnson C. Smith University planted a seed in the person of KC’s Coach Lennox Graham.
The University planted a seed, expecting a crop of a renewed track and field program. Little did we know that the Lord God Almighty planted another seed right alongside it at the time, and has been steadily watering it himself. The early fear was that only students from Kingston College and Alpha would get an opportunity to realize their dreams of a college education, while running for a first class track and field coach.
Well we now know that our "little plan" was only a precursor of what was to come. Truth be told, the plan was much bigger than we could have ever imagined, and the pace at which it is unfolding is really God sized. The hiring of Coach Graham preceded the hiring of the University's 13th President, Dr. Ronald L. Carter, and through all of this moving and shaking, a transformation is taking place on this campus that seeks to benefit an entire generation of young people (who would not have had an opportunity) if this tangent is maintained.
Last night our first Calabar (Rabalac as they are affectionately known) landed on our campus to take up an athletic scholarship. That might seem to be something insignificant; however, it now stretches Coach Graham's vision far and wide. The vision of being a track and field program that reaches across the Jamaican landscape. Students from Kingston College, Jamaica College, Calabar High School, Vere Technical, St. Jago High School, Alpha Academy, St. Andrews Girls, Edwin Allen High School, et al... now grace the campus.
Next week we will have the sister of Shermaine Williams (Daniel Williams) to grace our campus. She just returned from the World Juniors. Can someone say building a legacy? You all have heard from me already about their athletic prowess, and you also heard of their academic achievements (2nd and 3rd highest GPAs in the country for Division II Athletics for women and men respectively), but now, here is where things get interesting.
Upon the advice of one of his assistants, Dr. Carter traveled to Jamaica this past summer and visited the rural parts of the country. He knew of the academic performances of all our athletes, and when he was told that there are more where these students came from, the trip was a fait accompli. From that visit this summer, we will see the first of approximately twenty students from the parish of Portland getting full scholarships to attend the University.
These students demolished their CXCs and CAPE exams; however, the financial wherewithal to attend UWI was not there. JCSU has stepped up to assist them. The University is in the business of developing social entrepreneurs who will transform the world, and why not start with students who have demonstrated a passion and desire for education wherever they may be on the globe.
Now let's connect the dots. Coach Graham was brought here to rebuild a track and field program. His first two recruits are high performance athletes on the track, but they also destroy their classes in the academy. More bright and talented students join the program, and follow suit. The program is lifted to national prominence, but the academics of these students does not takes a back seat. Academic prowess does not go unnoticed by new President, nor the Board of Trustees. The new President likes what he sees and makes a personal trip to Jamaica. Twenty students who would not have had an opportunity to go to anyone's college are now enrolled in one of the top tiered Historically Black College and University in the entire United States free of cost.