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Clarion, Pa.- Sacramento Kings player Jason “JT” Thompson, along with university alumnus and hip-hop artist Elijah “Skoola” Everett visited Clarion University to present a message and concert Sept. 19. The pair presented their program, “Achieving Your Dream,” to dozens of students who had gathered in the Gemmell Multi-Purpose Room to see these professional successes.
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It was the second assembly that Skoola and JT put on for Clarion University; their first presentation was in 2012. Looking to do more good, Everett and Thompson are hoping to make their presentation in Clarion an annual occurrence. This is great news to the University Activities Board and Minority Student Services who scheduled the pair to appear both this year and two years ago.
MSS Director Rogers Laugand says, “It’s part of our way of giving back,” adding that celebrity messages really have an impact. “Achieving Your Dream” consisted mainly of telling Thompson’s story and how it can relate to other students. Questions were asked after he gave his message by both Skoola and the students and faculty in the audience.
Another focus point of the program was the importance of hard work. Thompson spoke about how tough it was to get in his present condition as a seven-season veteran for the Sacramento Kings. Much of his story consisted of overcoming hardships in Philadelphia and how things were never handed to him outright.
The 6-feet, 11-inch star said that he was not always as tall as he is now. In fact, he was not even six feet at the beginning of his high school basketball career and rather gained a couple inches every year until his college years. “I set goals for myself, I worked for myself” said Thompson, and he had to stick to them in order to get better and eventually end up in the NBA. He added that the struggle Continued on p. 3 was not over once he got in the league since contracts are fickle and that the average time spent in the NBA is much less than his seven-year span.
He has made his life very successful and even started the JT foundation which aims to teach youth how to lead healthier lives. Jason said, “It’s our goal to come back to the school and give back.” Himself and Elijah are also thinking about visiting his school, DeVry, in the future. The duo agree to perform together because they are good friends and share the same passion in “helping Clarion become as prestigious as possible,” said Skoola.
Another facet of Thompson’s story was how to acknowledge the important people in your life, citing the fact that his distant family in Sacramento never tried to contact him until he was a star in the NBA. Everett says he is happy to give back to his university but expressed his concern that the event was not advertised well enough. He says the crowd should be “a lot more diversified, opening up windows for more students.”