Coming from where I’m from, on the rough side of Birmingham, there’s absolutely no way that one gets to the age of 30 in good, legal standing without somebody else investing into your life. I saw a lot of men and women I grew up with landing themselves in bad situations or resorting to playing the game of life under shady terms. For the most part, I avoided all of that courtesy of the Birmingham Public Library, which was introduced to me by my late great-grandmother. But still, to have gotten to where I am today and where I’ll be a few short days from now, I had to have a person who invested big in me. In today’s post to The 24 To 30 feature, I’ll cover the story of Kelly Scott…
THE BACKGROUND. I crossed paths with Kelly in February 2003, a few months before I graduated from high school. At the time, I still had concerns about how I’d make my way to The Ohio State University. My parents weren’t loaded enough to pay for it and they weren’t broke enough for FASFA to pay for it. Furthermore, I didn’t get selected for any of the scholarships I applied for. It was looking like I’d have to go the route of student loans to get to Columbus. But Kelly ended up calling me personally. He introduced himself as an alumnus. Even more than that, he said he wanted to discuss an opportunity for me to get my education…for free. He offered to pay for my entire college education, outlining some terms I had to meet. I agreed to the terms and my path to Ohio State became much, more clearer. Keeping up with his terms was easy: maintain a 3.5 GPA, 20 hours of community service, and an essay on life as a college student. I had to do that every semester…really simple on paper but exponentially hard in practice. I’ve never been one to waste other people’s money so I always took it seriously what Kelly was doing for me. As an alum, a business owner, and an old money type, Kelly had access to a lot of things and even more people. It’s because of him that I’ve been introduced to people of different backgrounds, exposing me to life in different spectrums. Every time I’ve needed some professional advice or guidance, I’ve been able to turn to him and he’s come through personally with words and actions…or he’s put me in touch with other people who move the needle. Kelly is an avid sports fan. I often call him an Ohio State extremist. He got me into the 2004 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, where Ohio State mashed up on Kansas State. He was the one who hooked me up with the interview at HSBC in Vancouver back in December 2006. Even after I finished at Ohio State, Kelly didn’t stop in his support of my education—or the education of the others he sponsored—as everything up to, and including, my first graduate degree is on his dime. Today, I still talk to him from time-to-time. He often jokes with me that I should come and manage his facility…something that always draws a laugh from me.
THE MOMENT OF IMPACT. The impact moment Kelly had on me happened early on. Just mere months after I agreed to the sponsorship terms, my delayed entry option got picked up by the Air Force and I was off to basic military training. Instead of ending the agreement, Kelly stayed firm to it…despite the fact that I was entering military service. Knowing that I still had the financial support to continue on at Ohio State—even from a distant perspective—meant a lot to me. It was one of the key factors that moved me to finish early.
HOW IT GOT ME TO 30. Over the course of my life, I’ve heard countless people desire to be multi-millionaires. I once had that desire. But then I met Kelly. And through getting to know him and seeing him in action, I learned that money isn’t everything. Actually, I think it’s pretty trivial in some respects. It’s the experience of touching lives that matters more…being able to help others blow through the ceilings of their lives to better places and bigger dreams. As I become much more financially savvy and my wealth grows, I’m reminded of Kelly and his presence in my life. He’s one of the reasons why my very own scholarship—the Just Juan Building Blocks Scholarship—is so important to me.