Jahron Francis ’19 BSBA (MIS, Entrepreneurship, Operations Management)
If you need an example of what an overachiever looks like, look no further than Jahron Francis ’19 BSBA (MIS, Entrepreneurship, Operations Management).
In addition to taking on three majors, Francis is the president of the Zeta Theta Chapter of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., the philanthropy chair for the Eller African American Honorary, a co-founder of a local nonprofit organization, a board member for the Eller Student Excellence Fund, avidly participates in community service projects and has a full-time job lined up for when he graduates in fall 2019.
Though his passions for education and the community are guiding principles in his life at the moment, this has not always been the case.
“Growing up, I really didn’t see the value in education,” he says. “My dad, who immigrated from Jamaica, always stressed the importance of education, but I didn’t listen to him and ended up dropping out of high school.”
A few years later, Francis enrolled in Pima Community College to earn his GED. Shortly after, his life was changed forever.
“At the age of 21, I had my daughter, Aiko,” he says. “With her in my life, I knew I needed to pursue higher education. How could I inspire her to achieve her dreams and live a successful life when I didn’t even value my own educational journey? I want her to see that education is a gateway to a better life by setting a positive example.”
He re-enrolled at Pima to earn an associate degree and eventually was accepted into Eller for his bachelor’s degree.
“Starting school at Eller required a serious shift in perspective,” he says. “I had always done the minimum amount of work to get by. Suddenly I was surrounded by so many high-performing students, which inspired me to become the best version of myself I can be and create a strong personal brand.”
Fitting into this new environment and mindset was hard for Jahron. Luckily, he found a mentor in Tremain Ravenell ’12 BSBA (Marketing), then a career coach and diversity coordinator at Eller, who now works with the University of Arizona Alumni Association.
Francis says: “College was so new to me—I had no idea what direction to move in. Tremain helped guide me towards student organizations that fit my passions and strengths.”
This guidance led Francis towards groups like the MIS Association and Eller Transfer Ambassadors. Wanting to push himself academically, he added majors in Entrepreneurship and Operations Management to his existing MIS major.
In his free time, he can be found participating in community service, whether it’s mentoring at-risk youth through his fraternity, visiting kids in the hospital as the president of the Sho Ryders Motorcycle Club Tucson Chapter, packaging food for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona with friends from the African American Honorary or hosting events to benefit local food banks as the co-founder of Deejays Against Hunger, a nonprofit which he runs with his brother, Jahmar Anthony Francis.
“As a member of my community it is my duty, right and privilege to go out and make a difference wherever I can,” he says.
Now at the age of 32, his hard work both in and outside the classroom is paying off. He has an internship with Altria lined up for summer 2019, and they have already offered him a full-time position in Phoenix when he graduates. He also plans to continue his education by earning a master’s degree in the near future.
“Graduation from the University of Arizona will be the one of the biggest accomplishments of my life so far, and I’m so glad it is happening at Eller,” he says. “For someone who hated school when I was younger, I have fallen in love with education during my time here. Reflecting on who I am now, it is crazy to think about the path I used to walk.”
For those who may be following a similar path to the one he followed in high school, Francis wants to be an example of hope and chance for new beginnings.
“Determination is key,” he says. “The journey will be hard, and there will be plenty of late nights. But I learned that in order to achieve my goals, sacrifices are necessary. Most importantly, I want people to know that it is never too late for them to start following their dreams.”