Laz Alonso, who was a judge at the Home Depot Retool Your School event, sat down with rolling out and answered a few questions about the program, his home improvements and education.
What was the best part of Retool Your School?
For me, the best part of Retool Your School is being able to see a lot of these smaller HBCUs. I went to Howard University, which is 1,200 [students] strong. I enjoyed seeing the smaller schools come to the table with such great proposals, they put so much effort behind their pitches. They really take a wholehearted effort.
In what ways did you participate in the contest?
For me, I participated from a social media aspect. I was able to generate not only my own HU school pride but also help students know this is a viable program to be apart of. In addition to that, I came down to Atlanta to vote and to go through each and every proposal making sure all the criteria was met, and lastly elect a winner for the different tiered prizes that Home Depot gave.
Tell us about your home improvement process. Do you just go in Home Depot and pick materials out?
No I don’t just go in. I first start off by watch a lot of home improvement channels, I get a lot of ideas watching old houses getting torn down and brought up to date. I also buy a lot of magazines home improvement magazines,decorative magazines and get ideas for paint colors, titling, flooring, different finishings on walls and lighting schemes. So with that,the people at my Home Depot know me well, I’m like the major. That place became like my second home. I purchased a home a couple of years ago, a fixer upper. The last two years I have pretty much torn it all down and redid it. The more I can get my hands dirty and fix it myself, the more I enjoy the outcome.
With the importance of education, what did Howard give you that keeps you committed and changed you as a person ?
I think there are some intangibles that come from getting an HBCU education that you can’t really measure on graduation rates or any type of scale, but they are there. You see them in people such as Keshia Knight Pulliam, who was also a judge and in many of my other colleagues. The intangibles come from being in an environment that fosters independent thinking and never taking no for answer. Those are things you learn to appreciate and utilize in the real world.