Blog Entry Capacity Building, Economic Opportunity

Paying It Forward: Reflections of a TFI Fellow

by Jordan Rufus

The below article is authored by Jordan Rufus, an alumni of The Fellowship Initiative at JPMorgan Chase and former intern for the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA).

Statistics suggest that the life of a poor Black male from a single parent household residing in the ghetto with socioeconomic obstacles will yield a nonproductive result with a negative impact to society. Imagine living in a system, society, or community that is designed for African Americans to fail. A system designed for you to fail before the starting whistle is even blown.  One is expected to become a product of their environment. 

Despite these expectations, I stand before you with a wealth of knowledge regarding the tools necessary to overcome these circumstances when effort and opportunity coexist. This system has not deterred or allowed me to lose sight of higher achievement. Failure is not an option for me. I remain goal driven. I was able to expand my college career with this mindset and earn my Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting. Furthering my education has been one of my greatest accomplishments to date, allowing me to get one step closer to becoming a certified CPA.  

My passion for accounting came into play during my involvement in The Fellowship Initiative, which was sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. This fellowship fostered new opportunities for me I never knew existed. Through TFI I was provided with life -changing experiences, such as visits to South Africa, Business Camps and SAT prep. Prior to TFI I rarely saw successful Black men; these experiences helped me envision my future.  As a result of the TFI fellowship and amazing network I developed there, I was able to gain an internship with the Campaign for Black Male Achievement (CBMA). 

The internship at CBMA was an essential element of my career and self-growth. Working for a company whose main mission is to uplift young Black men gave me a huge sense of pride. In addition, my first trip to California was sponsored by CBMA to help kids from Oakland receive jobs as a way to avoid negative influences. 

As the oldest of four siblings it has always been my top priority to pave the way and act as a role model for those coming after me. As an accountant, I have strategized to provide adequate and essential tax advice to people who can’t afford to pay for these services, in addition to infusing an approach to financial freedom by instilling hope in those who may have lost faith. Lastly, I would like to create a mentorship and career exposure program to teach young Black men basic finance and accounting principles.  

With high hopes, I will continue to create a path with seamless positive progression for my siblings, as well as those in my community. Very few achieve their true potential, but through conditioning, I believe that I will achieve my goals. In doing so, I plan to exemplify great stewardship characteristics, a love for learning, a dedication to excellence, and an aspiration to one day be able to change the worlds of young men who grow up in environments like I did around the world.