In celebration of the release of the book “The HBCU Experience: Virginia State University” book (out now), we got the chance to interview VSU alumnus and entrepreneur Jermaine Simpson. Check it out!
Randall: Tell us about yourself!
Jermaine: My name is Jermaine “Jelly” Simpson I am from Chicago, Ill but definitely VA has been my home for more than 20 years. I love watching and playing sports like football, basketball and recently golf. I enjoy being around my close friends and riding my motorcycle. I have a beautiful wife name Natalie Simpson she is from Harlem/Bronx NY she is a great women and awesome motivator for myself and our family. I have a beautiful daughter name Aidyn she is the 9 going on 29 but she is so full of life and very creative. She and her mother live in Maryland but we all have an amazing relationship with one another. The perfect Blended family lifestyle.
Randall: How did you end up at your University/College?
Jermaine: I ended up at VSU because of Dr. Shackleford and my guidance counselor Mrs. Davis they both pushed me in a positive direction to attend an HBCU not only for Football scholarship but for Basketball and Army ROTC assistants as well because I was Battalion Commander in high school for my JROTC program.
Randall: What did you get your degree in? Did it support what you are doing now?
Jermaine: I got my degree in Sports Marketing. It does support what I am doing with Sales and Marketing at the dealership and for my business with Uplift Entertainment and Uplift Clothing Apparel.
Randall: Can you give me a quick description of your years in college? (Freshman-Senior)
Jermaine: Freshman year: I was on the football team and a member of the ROTC program were I was blessed to join the National Society of Pershing Rifles “PR” Ocsar 4 Company
I was wearing fresh outfits to my 8am classes like I was in high school lol. I brought ever book required for every class and my book bag looked like i was hauling bricks lol. But I did have to get early classes because my afternoons I had to go to practice.
Sophomore year: I started getting a little more comfortable with the campus and the students and organizations on the campus which made my confidence go up. Life as a student started been more about fitting than anything else. At State I started noticing more about student life with clubs and activities along with organizations I would like to be apart of. But football and ROTC already had majority of my time so this was going to be difficult. But I was up for the challenge.
Junior year: I was blessed to become a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity INC. Nu Psi Chapter also became a student ambassador earlier that summer and assisted with freshman orientations. I took great pride in what I did in all my organizations because I wanted to stand out and be the best. This year I also wanted to run for Mr. VSU with the help of a lot of peer pressure from my classmates and teammates but unfortunately because I played football I could not compete for that title.
Senior year: I only focused on that final goal GRADUATION. extremely nervous this year not that i wasn’t going to graduate but I wanted to make my family proud by being the 1st to attend college and Graduate in my family that meant so much to me. This year i focused on football and books 24/7 I wanted to have the opportunity to get a shout of the NFL to see if I could make it. i went to several different Senior bowl game after the football season for scout to have a look at me. This year I also became Dean of the Spring 2002 line of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity INC Nu Psi Chapter which I took great honor in. I also was named Unsung Hero of the Pan Hellenic Council at VSU.
Randall: What year would you consider as your success year?
Jermaine: My Junior is what I was take as my success year
Randall: How did you start working in your current position?
Jermaine: I started working at the dealership by accident. My neighbor Anthony Wood was the Finance Manager for Nissan and one day after coming home from my intern with VCU at the Siegal Center he said you have the “SWAG” and the personality for Sales. I was like man I dont know nothing about selling cars he said selling cars has nothing to do with the cars it all about YOU. Then he ask me what did you get your degree in and I said “marketing” he then said see that’s all cars sales is marketing yourself. So I went in and gave it a shot and within 6 months of selling I was promoted to Internet and Marketing manager for the dealership. And after 15 years in the business I am the Sale manager for a very successful dealer group.
Randall: Did you expect to be in the position you are in today?
Jermaine: Hell no lol never could have told me selling cars would be my life. But as far has Uplift Entertainment and Uplift Clothing Apparel I would have said yes because I always wanted to start my own business like my Grandfather and mother. Thanks to my best friend Ron Neal and my wife that became a reality.
Randall: How do you feel your HBCU experience at Virginia State University aid you in your success?
Jermaine: My HBCU experience at VSU had a huge impact on my success. It taught my self discipline, time management how to react to sudden change and how to deal with any situation that my come my way.
Randall: What’s next on your journey?
Jermaine: My next journey is to become business mentor for the next generation of entrepreneurs and grow Uplift Clothing Apparel.
Randall: Where can we find you?
Jermaine: @upliftent or IG and Twitter @upliftclothingapparel on IG and www.upliftclothingapparel.com You can find me now home lol but just follow my social media platforms @upliftent and Jermaine Jelly Simpson on FB
Randall: Tell us about your book The HBCU Experience: The Virginia State University Edition?
Jermaine: The book HBCU Experience at Virginia State University will talk about me as a 18 year kid to coming to A Different World and experiencing all walks of life and becoming a man along the way. Learning about myself in ways I never could have dreamed to reaching goals I thought were impossible. I will see the Love that have for VSU and I can honestly say I would not have change anything about my experience at an HBCU.