Psychology grad Jerome Morgan harnesses the power of community
July 27, 2012
For Jerome Morgan, Psychology ’11, success is not about getting ahead or being better than everybody else. Instead, it means working with others in his community to forge a better life for all.
“I was born in Jamaica – that’s where my mom and grandmother were raised,” he says. “To be successful, you’re supposed to take care of your neighbour. Everybody’s depending on each other.”
Now working on his master’s, he was the first in his family to even study at university. Battling a learning disability while living in a low-income neighbourhood in Toronto, he defied many odds.
“In the community that I grew up in, there’s always ‘you’re poor, so you can’t do this,’ or ‘you’re black, so you can’t do this,’” he says. “And I always felt I could.”
As the eldest of six siblings, he wants his family and friends to feel just as capable as he does.
At Ryerson, he worked with the First Generation Project (supporting students who are the first in their families to attend post-secondary education) and the Tri-Mentoring Program, which helps Ryerson’s culturally diverse students reach their personal and academic goals.
He was also president of the United Black Students. He won Ontario’s 2011 Lincoln M. Alexander Community Award, a Psychology Chair Award and a Dennis Mock Student Leadership Award for academics and volunteer work. Much of his drive comes from what he’s learned about his ancestors, Jamaican Maroons, former slaves in Jamaica who escaped the colonizers and settled in the interior of the island. “They fought and won,” he explains. “They aimed to get freedom for other enslaved people as well.”
This interest has influenced his master’s studies at York University. He’s examining how our Eurocentric society affects black men, and he continues to help people as a community health educator in Mississauga.
As busy as Morgan is, he makes time to read a bedtime story to his eight- and 12-year-old brothers, and to ask them about their school projects. He takes his role as a mentor seriously.
Carolyn Morris is a writer based in Toronto.