As a black male growing up in one of the roughest areas of Charleston, S.C., Paul Brown wanted more than his circumstance. Born and raised in a single-parent household, Brown was able to turn his difficult life experience into a positive reflection book called “Against the Odds.” The author provides a glimpse into his world from adolescence to adulthood, and how he made his way out of his condition.
Brown explained that his grades were terrible in grade school because he became more focused on working than his academics, at least until it started to matter. After graduating high school, he ventured to Trident Technical College to get an understanding of the college atmosphere.
It was his experience at the technical college where his life began to shift for the better. He swapped his dreadlocks and gold teeth for bow ties and fitted jeans. He was introduced to Herman Pryor, his mentor, who shared life similarities. They both grew up in a heavily crime impacted area to a single parent. He encouraged him to pursue more out of life and his situation.
He faced adversities enrolling into a four-year college including several denial letters from other universities until Winthrop University’s admissions decided to take a chance on the young man from Charleston trying to beat the odds. The prestige university was a change of pace compared to the atmosphere in Charleston.
“Winthrop took me away from my comfort zone. It was a slap in the face,” he said.
The author had his first real experience with a diverse group of peers. He became involved in campus life and started making the best of his bachelor’s degree. However, in 2011, he experienced a “weird semester.” He was having issues with his next move after college, and he suffered a loss in his family. His cousin Jarrell passed away to a quick illness. Brown shared in details about his experience during this difficult time in his book, and how it encouraged him to stay in school for an extra semester and pursue obtaining a master’s degree in non-profit management in hopes of creating a community organization named after his cousin.
In December immediately following graduation from Winthrop University, he moved to Savannah to pursue his graduate degree at Savannah State University. He learned the ropes of non-profit organizations while studying at the historically black university. After completing his degree, he moved back to Rock Hill on a mission to tackle his goals of creating his non-profit organization and attending law school. He incorporated JAE Foundation, which is a non-profit organization geared towards helping the inner youth and motivating them through his past experience. The foundation is named after his cousin Jarrell, his mom Arleen, and his grandmother Eliza who all made different impacts in his life.
“I want to offer mentorships and provide an option for youth to get away from their situation,” he said.
It took him three years to create it, he said. However, he’s not in a rush to start heavily implementing the organization. He would rather become professionally established first.
With one mission accomplished, he applied for law school, but he was denied due to his grade point average. His academic issue travelled with him throughout his entire educational career. However, instead of being in a slump, he was exposed to another avenue—writing.
One of his mentors encouraged him to put his story down on paper, he said.
He set out a goal to self-publish “Against All Odds” by June, in which he accomplished. As the oldest of three boys, Brown realized that he needed to share his story if not for himself, but his twin brothers.
Brown felt compelled to share his story and book to Oprah, Hill Harper and other celebrities. He mailed out copies of his books to their producers and offices in hopes of a response. Shortly after mailing his memoir to Hill Harper’s Manifest Your Destiny, he received a phone call from the organization inquiring his service to serve as a workshop facilitator during their Summer Empowerment Academy. He was flown to Los Angeles to lead the critical thinking session.
“It was about teaching them to live life like you’re about to jump with no safety net,” he said.
Passion to build and leave a legacy
Brown is passionate about having his own family, career, and home. His family is important to him, and creating his own is even more because it is something he lacked growing up as a child.
His passion is also driven from a lesson from his mentors to make an impact on the lives of others.
“I’m passionate about leaving a legacy that can change someone’s life,” he said.
His motto “each one, reaching one, and teaching one” fully captures his value of leaving a legacy.
Hope for happiness
He hopes for the three H’s and one W- health, happiness, household, and wealth. While thankful for his situation, his lack of traditional family dynamic played a toll on him. He was able to beat the odds even without his father’s presence, but he hopes for the status quo life with a family, house, and a white picket fence.
‘Respect is earned’
Brown believes that respect is earned by your actions and decisions.
“It’s when you do your own thing,” he said. “People have no choice, but to respect you.”
Empowered by his past
The master’s degree graduate is empowered by his past situations. He recalled the people who didn’t expect him to succeed including a teacher who called him out in high school and the other nay-sayers who didn’t believe in his capability. His past drove him to write the book and pursue higher education because he never wanted to go back to living in a single-parent household with an air condition unit in the window to keep his family cool during the Charleston summers. Most importantly, he’s empowered by his twin brothers to encourage and serve as a role model for them. They are the reason for ‘Against the Odds.”
“Damian and DaJuan, thank you for the motivation and for inspiring me to share my story with others,” he wrote in his dedication.
As a psychology major in undergrad, he learned about different philosophies and principles including Maslow’s Hierarchy of Class which focus on moving your way up. Therefore, he is ambitious to not fail. He doesn’t care about being famous, but he wants to be able to turn his situation around, he said.
For more information about Paul P. Brown, follow him on Instagram at JAE_Foundation and to purchase his book go to http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/paul-brown/against-the-odds/paperback/product-21562617.html.