A 2016 graduate of Carver High School, Jamerial Gardner currently studies Biology at Wilberforce University, a private historically black university in Wilberforce, Ohio. There she is a member of STEM, a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics club for students who are STEM majors, which consists of groups such as the National Society of Black Engineers, Biology, and Information-Technological students.
Beyond the Wilberforce campus, Gardner is completing the process necessary to volunteer at the Hospice Care of Miami Valley in Xenia, Ohio, a care program for people who are facing life-limiting illnesses. She notes wanting to volunteer with the program because the center specializes and concentrates on the philosophy of caring for others, rather than the disease itself, which helps student volunteers to better understand people as well as gain valuable skills.
Jamerial Gardner’s college involvement accurately reflects her level of involvement in high school with the Birmingham Education Foundation. When she was in the tenth grade, her Academy of Engineering class went on educational field trips to Alabama Power, Birmingham Water Works, and to other generating plants. One of these tours was taken with the Birmingham Education Foundation, which is how she got more acquainted with Ed. Gardner describes the Birmingham Education Foundation as focused on the students’ futures and how they could better prepare them for it. She notes learning through Ed the value in networking with business professionals and branding herself and how Ed motivated her to be college-and-career ready so that she could be a change agent of the new millenium. She also depicts Ed as an organization that encourages students to gain as many skills as possible when preparing to work in a competitive field. For example, Ed would allow students to network with someone in their desired field, and, on the same, that person would get an internship or job shadowing opportunity out of it, which allows the student to get a real-life understanding of their future career before they make a definite decision on what they want to be in life.
The Birmingham Education Foundation is able to focus so thoroughly on the student’s
futures through programs Jamerial Gardner was involved in like Changemakers. By sitting down with Daniel Ross of YouthServe and Victoria Hollis of the Birmingham Education Foundation, Gardner participated in community changing conversations and talked about ways to positively impact the North Birmingham neighborhoods. The Changemakers group would meet up with other students and discuss how they could get work together to understand the importance of keeping their local neighborhoods clean and encourage academic or communal change amongst students. They concluded that some students felt as though the community did not care about their future, so it made them wonder why should they care either. This mindset ultimately led to a collaboration between teachers, students, and organization coordinators to talk about how they could help and encourage students to push towards their goal and climb the ladder of success. It was through Changemakers that Gardner learned about the value of community and the community of people behind her that wanted to help and see her succeed.
Jamerial Gardner got a first-hand experience of this success after winning the Birmingham Education Foundation’s first ever Family Game Night. Garner expresses how nervous and elated she was to be on stage competing for college scholarships in front of people. After being named the first winner of Ed’s Family Game Night, she emphasizes how amazed, astonished, and extremely honored she was to win because her main goal that night was to have fun and do her best. Even if she would have lost, Gardner relates that she would have been a winner and the same person striving to meet her goals because winning is dependent upon a person’s drive, determination, and willingness when wanting to accomplish their goal.
By her own definition, Jamerial Gardner is a winner, and the Birmingham Education Foundation has contributed to her success. Because of Ed, she was able to win student of the year awards, go on study abroad trips to China, win full ride scholarships to college, network with business professionals, be valedictorian of her high school, and relinquish the burdens from her family of having to worry about paying for her college education. Gardner will be forever grateful for Ed and its’ programs because they helped her grow and develop to her full potential.