2019 Best & Brightest: Jerome Smalls, Georgetown University (McDonough)

Jerome Smalls

Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business

 “Jerome is jazzy, jiggy, and a jokester. My mission? Spread love and truth.”

Fun fact about yourself: My mayor proclaimed July 28th as Jerome Smalls Day in my hometown.

Hometown: Charleston, SC

High School: West Ashley High School

Major: Marketing

Minor: African American Studies

Favorite Business Course: Marketing Strategy

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Community Work:

GOOD Projects | Volunteer & Student Coordinator | Fall 2017 – Present

GOOD is a local non-profit that I have led multiple programs for. I.E: a Saturday school tutoring program and a campus wide bagged lunch campaign for those experiencing homelessness.

Male Development Association (MDA) | Founder & President | Spring 2016 – Spring 2018

MDA is a mentorship program that pairs men of color on campus with young men of color at a local high school in Washington, DC.

Lemonade Day DC (LDDC) | Georgetown’s Coordinator | Fall 2015 – Present

LDDC is a city-wide initiative that uses college mentors to teach entrepreneurship and financial literacy to 4th – 8th graders across all eight wards of DC.


Lena Landeggar Community Service Award

Intuit L.I.F.E. Scholar Award

Black Student Alliance Junior Impact Award

Spirit of Georgetown Award

Where have you interned during your college career?

Georgetown Summer School | Washington, DC | Program Manager | Spring & Summer 2016

Bloomberg | New York, NY | Technology & Recruitment Marketing Intern | Summer 2017

Youth Marketing Connection | Washington, DC | Junior Program Strategist | Spring 2018

Where will you be working after graduation? Georgetown University | Director of nextGEN

The nextGEN program is a brand new initiative on campus to increase Georgetown’s accessibility to first-generation and low-income students by supporting linchpin educators across the country who play influential roles for these students in under-resourced, public schools.

What company do you admire most? I admire a local company called GOODPartners. This is a startup created by three African American men who graduated from Georgetown in 2016. They are committed to bridging the gaps in education for black and brown youth who face the greatest disadvantages that come with poverty. I admire them because they prove that seeking profit and social good is not only possible but even more economical for all. In addition to their company, they have a non-profit arm called GOODProjects. They have found the optimal blend when it comes to corporate social responsibility and being profit driven. That, plus the fact that their mission is directed toward marginalized communities, are all reasons why I admire them most.

Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor was Dr. Christopher Shinn. I participated in a 5-week bridge program at Georgetown called the Community Scholars Program before my freshman year, and he was the first college professor I ever learned under. Professor Shinn assigned readings and homework that would open my eyes to the reality of America’s sins and he would spark my thirst for truth and political consciousness. I say that Professor Shinn’s writing and culture class taught me more than any history class I took in high school.

What did you enjoy most about your business school? The DEANS! The McDonough School of Business has some of the most resourceful, compassionate, and loving deans. I have been able to build genuine relationships with nearly every dean in the McDonough School of Business [Undergraduate Program] not only due to my involvement in multiple programs but also because of our classic “Bagels with Deans” that occur every Thursday morning! The deans have offered more than just academic or career advice. In many ways, I have been able to create friendships with them, friendships that I believe will last a lifetime.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Studying business, alongside my involvement with social justice efforts on campus and my African American Studies minor, has taught me that there are many ways for corporations to truly practice civic leadership. It has taught me that “charity” work and business do not have to be two separate entities. I honestly believe that with a little more will power, more businesses can be socially driven organizations that are also dedicated to maximizing profits.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? My advice would be simple. Don’t believe in the status quo. The typical notions of business as the world once knew them are shifting. You no longer need the backing of large scale institutions (both corporations and universities) to validate your credentials. With the current digital age, you have the capacity to create your own signal. Use a business degree to learn the technical and the logistics, but never feel the need to conform. In today’s age, the tradeoff between work and passion does not have to be your reality.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I think I’ve been most surprised by the role in which networking plays in business. Growing up, I had always heard the cliché saying of, “your net-worth is your network.” Not to say I never understood the value of connections, but it wasn’t until I began to study business that I saw first-hand the immense power of having the right ‘connectors’ in your corner. Simultaneously, I was also surprised to learn how tight-knit the world of business actually is. Majoring in business have given me a new appreciation for my network and connections.

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be majoring in or studying… African American Studies and/or Education.”

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While I was in high school, I had the privilege of taking both marketing courses and engineering courses offered by the Career and Technology Education program at my school. As I grew older, I realized that I was most passionate about business. And though this news saddened my engineering teacher, he completely understood. During my senior year, Mr. Beyel would serve as a lead supporter when applying to school and he helped me organize my essays, my deadlines, and letters of recommendation. But his biggest impact came when he helped me filter my search of schools based on my interest in business – helping me choose the very best programs. And since he went to Syracuse University (Georgetown’s biggest rival) he knew about the McDonough School of Business all too well in a very unique way. Ultimately, it was because of Mr. Beyel that I even knew about Georgetown and I have to thank him for guiding me toward the best decision I’ve ever made.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? My proudest accomplishment would have to be writing and publishing my first book last year. Last April I published my book, Small Talk: One Youth. Seven Stories. Countless Lessons. I wrote this book to offer advice to young people from my perspective as a young person. I have always had a passion for youth development, and this book is my most proud personal achievement because it was my way of using my personal story as a mechanism to help other young people. Since its publication, my mission has been to get it in the hands of as many students as possible, especially those who look like me and can relate to my journey.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire my good friend and peer, Sebastien Pierre-Louis. Sebastien is also a senior in the business school and he is the most hard-working, big-hearted, selfless, and socially aware person I know my age. For years, I’ve admired Seb’s confidence in calling out systems of oppression and injustice when it comes to business. As he goes off to do private equity for Goldman Sachs, I know he will continue to be a disruptor and a voice for the voiceless at any table he occupies. Sebastien inspires me to also stay true to my convictions as I pursue a career in social justice and business.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d have to thank my grandmother for all that she has contributed to my success today. Growing up, I was privileged with the opportunity to receive a lot of recognition and awards for my volunteer efforts and work as a youth entrepreneur in Charleston. Through all of this, my grandmother was more than just a cheerleader, she served as my PR manager, my booking agent, and my secretary. She made sure the world heard my story, and to my benefit, the world listened. I truly believe that without the help and amplification of my grandmother, I would have never been able to reach the platforms I did at such a young age. Additionally, as a kid who grew up with my parents in-and-out of my life due to mistakes they made as young parents, my grandmother was the only completely stable presence in my life. She offered the kind of stability that every child needs, and deserves. Yeah, I’d have to say “thank you” to Nana.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Bucket List Item 1: The first thing on my bucket list is to open up my own school. I want to open a school that embodies my vision for education, which is an environment that allows for stories of the students and their cultural backgrounds to dictate how and what they’re taught. I don’t wish to accomplish this bucket list item too soon, though. I want to create this school once I am fully confident that this method of educating can have the greatest impact on the lives of students from marginalized backgrounds.

Bucket List Item 2: The second item on my bucket list is to spend a year or more fully emerged within the culture of a completely foreign country. In an ideal world, I have the privilege to neglect my responsibilities and immerse myself within a new country for an entire year or more. The goal would be for me to do something (occupation wise) totally different from whatever it was I did in the States. The reason? Simply for the experience.

What are your hobbies? Some of my favorite hobbies include making music, creating films/ video projects, speaking to students (of all ages)

What made Jerome such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?

“It is hard to envision a student with a greater impact on Georgetown, McDonough, and the DC community than Jerome Smalls.

Jerome is pursuing a degree in Marketing with a minor in African American Studies. Amongst all of Jerome’s accomplishments, perhaps what is most impressive about him is his commitment to improving the world around him, whether it is through elevating dialogue on Georgetown’s campus or mentoring youth within the greater Washington, D.C. community. He truly embodies the value of Men and Women For Others, one of our core Jesuit values here at Georgetown McDonough. Jerome led the Male Development Association at Georgetown, an organization dedicated to providing mentorship and promoting positive character development and academic achievement amongst young, male students from Washington DC’s most underserved communities. He has also served as a McDonough student leader for Lemonade Day, an initiative in which Georgetown students promote financial literacy skills and entrepreneurship to DC youth by supporting them to set up their own lemonade stands throughout the city.

In addition to his experience mentoring DC youth, Jerome is an incredibly dynamic and engaging motivational speaker, a published author, and an entrepreneur in his own right. He is the founder and CEO of SmallTalk LLC, a youth speaker’s bureau dedicated to motivating youth, empowering educators, and connecting students and teachers through the power of storytelling. He has even launched a video series providing teachers with updates on youth pop culture to assist them in connecting more meaningfully with their students. After publishing his first book, which became an Amazon bestseller, Jerome is working to create a podcast series to interview thought leaders in education and facilitate dialogue on how students and teachers can better connect and engage with one another.

Overall, Jerome Smalls truly epitomizes the best and brightest of Georgetown McDonough. He is a one-of-a-kind student who pursues his passions fervently, motivates and inspires youth, and enriches not only our campus community and our classrooms here in McDonough but also the greater Washington, DC community.”

Daniel C. Minot
Senior Associate Director, Undergraduate Programs
Georgetown University McDonough School of Business


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