Rolling Out

Why Terrence J is still passionate about giving back to HBCUs

Why Terrence J is still passionate about giving back to HBCUs
Terrence J and Arlette Guthrie, the senior vice president of human resources at the Home Depot, pose for a picture. (Photo courtesy of Rae-vaughn Lucas)

Actor and entertainment Terrence J never lets a moment pass without shouting out his roots.

The North Carolina native makes sure people know wherever he goes that he is full of Aggie Pride, the mantra of the proud students and alum at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina. Recently, Terrence J was in Atlanta and spoke to rolling out about Home Depot’s Retool Your School event, a program that gives money to HBCUs to help them acquire necessary resources to improve institutions.

Why are you getting involved with the Home Depot?

I’m so excited. First of all, I’m a big Home Depot fan. I’m in a Home Depot at least once a month doing some shopping. So when I got the phone call from them, it was something I especially wanted to do. When it comes to HBCUs, they’re very near and dear to my heart. I graduated from an HBCU. I’m the Thurgood Marshall College Fund National Ambassador, and part of my mission statement in life is giving back. So the Retool Your School program is such a well-designed and put-together program, and I’m just really excited to be here in Atlanta and be a part of it.

The big news around A&T right now is J.R. Smith winning the student-athlete academic award over there this year. What does that mean to you to see someone established like him go back to school and excel?

J.R. is great. I just came back from A&T and spent time with him. He’s a world champion. He’s an NBA legend, but he’s rededicated his life, and he’s doing great things in golf, but he’s not just playing golf. He’s walking around campus. He’s taking it seriously. We are so proud to have him as an Aggie. His leadership is just incredible. It’s great to be his friend and watch him on this journey. He’s inspiring everybody. He’s inspired me, I’m thinking like, ‘Should I go back and get my master’s degree? Should I act like he is?’ He’s very inspirational.

What does, as Deion [Sanders] puts it, leveling the playing field with more resources, more money mean for HBCUs?

HBCUs have always had the heart of gold, but when you’re competing with PWI institutions that have more access to internships, speakers, and technology in the classroom, you’re then coming out to an unfair playing field sometimes. So it’s so important that big fortune 500 companies like the Home Depot, step up to the plate and that’s why I made it my priority to be here, because we have big companies like this that step up and give the resources back. Then, it’s up to us to make sure that we’re there and that these students that are here today are ready and raring to go. It’s going to be a great program. I just saw [Laz] Alonso in the hallway, he’s ready to go. We’re all ready to Retool this School.

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