January is National Mentoring Month, a campaign launched in 2002 that focuses attention on the need for mentors and promotes opportunities for those who want to get involved. This month, we’re talking to local leaders about their mentors and which mentoring organizations they’re supporting.
Jarron Thomas, vice president of fraud strategy, Bank of America; founder/CEO, JumpInstitute
Years spent finding solutions for Fortune 500 companies allowed 29-year-old Jarron Thomas to quickly climb the corporate ladder. He credits the role of mentors in helping to navigate corporate America. But, it’s his heart for the community that deserves just as much recognition. Thomas is creating leaders of tomorrow by exposing youth to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities through involvement with community organizations and the creation of his own nonprofit.
Which mentor has made the biggest impact on where you are today?
That’s a tough question. It really takes a village. I would say there are different mentors who assisted me at different points in my life. It would be remiss of me not to mention two. Dr. Anthony Greene was one of my first African-American professors. He pulled me aside in one of my first sociology classes — after I transferred to UNC Charlotte — and took it upon himself to see to it that I made it to the finish line.
Also, I have to mention Rob Jones, who was a de facto mentor as one of my first managers at the bank. He did the same as Dr. Greene at a pivotal point for me in corporate America where I had enough experience yet had not found the right opportunity to get to the next level.
What’s the best advice they gave you?
Stay in the game. Pretty simple, and it resonated as I had been an athlete my entire life. Whether it’s an actual game or the “game of life,” under no circumstances are we out of the game unless we internally make that decision and take ourselves out. I truly believe that, and it has lit a relentless fervor in my belly that seeps into everything I commit myself to.
What’s a local mentoring organization everyone should know about?
The 100 Black Men of Greater Charlotte. I’m a little biased, but I’ve seen the work over the course of my life. My brother was a mentee in their program, and I was a servant-leader in college. I now sit on the board of directors.
The 100 Black Men are transforming lives of young African-American males in different ways. Through life skills, STEM initiatives and one-on-one mentoring, we are occupying their out-of-school time with positive role models and giving them an outlet. It also adds icing on the cake that the organization awards scholarship dollars to our students who qualify in order to aid the young men in going to the next level.
Other National Mentoring Month spotlights