Just a few months ago the very goofy and energetic Jamal Rakesh Averett walked the campus of North Carolina A&T State University as King, but it was just a dream once arriving his freshman year. Behind the 9,033 followers on Instagram, and the smile that served as an ambassador for his University, Averett was an individual who many people thought had everything together.
He soon left NCAT not having a job, however. It was the day before graduation, excited for the big day to walk across the stage; Averett was getting his cap and gown together along with his stylish outfit. A moment that he would remember for the rest of his life received a harsh twist when a denial letter from the company Millers Coors came in the mail stating that he did not receive the job he interviewed for.
Being flown to Chicago for his interview, and feeling very confident it seemed that if it was a dream come true. That dream faded quickly and left this University King clueless about what was next after the crown. The story of who Jamal Averett is now, begins in a small town two hours and thirty-one minutes away from where he received his degree.
Weighing over 250 pounds in high school, Averett refused involvement in school because of his self-image. Knowing that he had the potential to really be a greatly involved individual within various aspects of a high school experience, his self-image would always stop his feet from walking into doors of opportunity.
Food became his healing mechanism for hurt. Having a father who was not present in life and battling a fight with drugs, Averett had to grow up in a single-parent home with his older brother and sister, Rico Thomas, and Kierra Averett. His mother Esther Ratcliff had to work extended hours at her jobs many days to just provide for all three children. Life began to change when Averett and his family moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. Feeling afraid about all of his next choices, he stayed optimistic.
Having a father who was not present in life and battling a fight with drugs, Averett had to grow up in a single-parent home with his older brother and sister, Rico Thomas, and Kierra Averett. His mother Esther Ratcliff had to work extended hours at her jobs many days to just provide for all three children. Life began to change when Averett and his family moved to Greensboro, North Carolina. Feeling afraid about all of the life’s changes, Averett had no idea that Greensboro was the place of tremendous evolution when he moved there with his family before starting junior year of high school.
Signing up for a gym membership at a local gym, Averett began working out two times a day, and even recalls almost passing out some days from working out so hard. His best friend, Charity Maddox has been affected by the healthy change as well. “Now exercising and healthy eating is a part of his life, he is always challenging me to do better,” Maddox explained.
Knowing that he was destined for North Carolina A&T as a college choice, he worked even harder towards getting his health together. Choosing his sister’s Alma Matter hit home. “I was nervous because Jamal is my younger brother and we’ve been through it all together; there was the world out there to be discovered,” Kierra Averett stated as she thought about the excitement sending her baby brother off to school.
“I looked at senior pictures and it made me realize that I had to keep working towards getting my weight down,” Averett said, reflecting on the very moment.
It’s freshman year in 2012, walking on the campus that he would be learning on for the next four years, he takes a deep breath and imagines doing everything that he never got to while a child. Now 190 lbs. Averett was feeling better, looking, better, and ready to do better. Stepping out on faith he ran for Mister Freshman and won. He went on to run for Mister Sophomore and was disqualified for campaigning on social media.
He went on to run for Mister Sophomore and was disqualified for campaigning on social media.
Not giving up he went on to run for Sophomore Class Vice President. Falling in love with Student Government Association, and being a King he went on to run for Mister Junior and finally Mister North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. All of the potentials for becoming a student leader was finally unleashed after hiding it inside for so long throughout childhood.
“I would hear things like the past Mister NCAT is chill and well put together, he is built, he is serious……Are you sure you are fit for this,” Averett explained as he smiled remembering the day that he was announced, king. No one can attest to the growth during his reign as King as much as his queen Myja Gary.
Always screaming “My Kinnnngggggg” when seeing him after they are separated, it is obvious the two became close friends. “One thing that stood out to me over the year was his work ethic. Whatever he says he is going to do or wants to do; he puts his mind too,” Gary said.
Knowing that he was different, he was ready for what would take place his senior year.
Senior year had many challenges and the clock was running out of time to find his passion for what he wanted to do after college. He was great at motivating others to pursue their purpose but still struggling to find his. Unlike many other individuals in college, Averett never accomplished the achievement of completing an internship. He was qualified for many, but never took the time to focus on the future so he just lived in the right now.
Focusing so much on helping students he put himself last. Understanding the disconnect with his father, Maddox saw the passion for him wanting to be Mister A&T. “Growing up, Jamal battled with his relationship with his father and that created a stronger desire to be a big brother to the males at A&T,” Maddox said. “He left becoming a brother, friend, and mentor to the students at A&T and the greater Greensboro community.”
Realizing he had to get himself together he began applying for jobs. Flying out to various interviews, Averett began to receive many denials. Falling to a rock bottom he felt as if he had to have the perfect answer for everyone.
With so many thinking that his world was picture perfect, he attempted to find anything to make himself look good in the public eye.
Taking on an internship in Colorado with USDA he could finally brag about having some type of sustainability. He finally realized that he had to find happiness for himself and not the satisfaction of others. He went on to find a job with a good salary, and even a company car but went to work every day miserable.
One day everything that he hoped and prayed for came in alignment with his passion and purpose.
He is now set to move to Washington D.C. taking on a full-time job with Oracle that begins in February. Paying close attention to opportunities that his brother took in college, Rico Thomas is always happy to see success for his baby brother Jamal.
“GROWTH, he has truly grown every year and sets even bigger goals for himself,” Thomas said..
Many changes took place in Averett’s life.
He went from a size 44 in pants to a size 30. He went from wearing a 3X in shirts to now a size medium. He also went from not knowing his passion to fulfilling his dreams for career goals. Averett in now in a place of consistent happiness; not having a perfect life but happy to be transitioning through life’s ups and downs.
Who knew that the young boy who would starve himself to sleep and wrap himself in saran wrap would be an Aggie Alum always looking for better opportunities to DO!
“My heart cries to see how much he has grown,” Esther Ratcliff, his mother, explained as she looked relieved at the fact Jamal overcame childhood problems. “He pushes me to be the best that I can be.”
When asked the important question of if his college experience prepared him for the real world, he replied:
“I feel like the college experiences have well prepared me. I have been able to use connections, as well as my platform to continue to inspire and build connections with people.”
Having the definitive goal of becoming a director of Student Activities at a Historical Black College or University, we will soon see Averett helping the next generation of student leaders after he obtains a Masters in Higher Education.