Look out Nashville, Jaden Jules is on the way.
And when he arrives in the Music City in the fall to attend Vanderbilt University, he’ll be brandishing a special brand of Bull City activism and most likely in pursuit of equality and justice .
It was Jules’ pursuit of equality and justice that led him to create the Riverside High School Black Student Union (BSU), an organization that has pushed for the enrollment of more African-American students in Advanced Placement (AP) and honors courses at Riverside.
“At public schools, especially, I think it’s very hard for black students to get ahead and that’s the main reason I started Black Student Union,” Jules said. “I think the work that Black Student Union has done this year to get more students in honors and AP classes and to set up tutoring sessions to give black students and all students a system of support, I think is a very beautiful thing.”
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Jules got the idea for BSU while attending 2016 N.C. Governor’s School last summer.
While there, he noticed how few minority students were selected to attend and wanted to do something to help put more of his fellow Pirates in position to receive such honors.
Jules said he is humbled by being named Student of the Month and by the numerous other awards and honors he’s received, most notably $120,000 in scholarships and grants to attend Vanderbilt.
He won a Chancellor’s Scholarship and a Horatio Alger Scholarship for students who have overcome great obstacles to pursue their dreams through higher education.
“I think personal success is very good, but it means nothing if you can’t help others,” Jules said. “I think part of the reason I was named Student of the Month is because I advocate for students who don’t necessarily have the resources that I’ve had. I’m very passionate about making where I live a better place. I don’t think I would be happy doing otherwise.”
Jules noted that he’s had a lot of struggles in his short life — he and his mother were homeless at one point — but is grateful for his blessings.
“I think that’s where my strength to help people comes from,” Jules said of being homeless. “I know what it’s like to struggle.”
When he arrives in Nashville, Jules said he will likely major in communications or public policy and minor in music.
“I have very big aspirations,” Jules said. “Some days I want to be a media magnate and other days I want to be the press secretary in the White House. I think I’m just going to have to live these four years and see where it takes me.”
The Riverside leadership team that selected Jules Student of the Month described him as a “natural born leader shedding a positive light on his peers and his community daily.”
The team also called him an “uplifting voice for the voiceless.”
Student of the Month
School: Riverside High School
School activities: Founding president of the Riverside Black Student Union (BSU), Vice President of the Riverside Democratic Club, writer for the school newspaper, “The Pirates’ Hook, tutor through BSU and classical oboist, 2016 N.C. Governor’s School participant
Favorite book: “Adios America” by Ann Culton (Disagreed with much of it, but found it interesting because it helped to cultivate a love for debate, discussion and considering opposing views.)
Favorite music: Hip Hop
Favorite movie: “Clueless”
Favorite class: AP U.S. History, AP Government and Politics