Brothers LaCurtis Powell, 22, Jaquan Powell, 20, and David White, 18, don’t mind a little family-friendly competition, which is one reason they all ended up at Jackson State University.
“My brothers are 20 percent of the reason I came to Jackson State. I’ve wanted to come here since ninth grade,” said David White, who is majoring in criminal justice and political science – a combination of his brothers’ majors.
LaCurtis Powell was the first to attend the HBCU in 2015, where he was nominated Mr. Freshman. Jaquan Powell enrolled in 2017 and was also designated Mr. Freshman. White enrolled in 2019, and guess what?
Yup, he is the current Mr. Freshman. Furthermore, LaCurtis and Jaquan Powell both held the title of class president.
“I ran for Mr. Freshmen and president because I love my student body. I thought I had what it takes to look at both perspectives – administrations perspective and student perspective. I felt I could meet the goals for both,” said LaCurtis Powell.
After getting accepted into Thurgood Marshall School of Law, Florida A&M University, University of Mississippi, and Mississippi College, LaCurtis Powell had to place his law plans on hold to fulfill his active orders in the military. He is a commissioned second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.LaCurtis Powell, who graduated in May with a degree in criminal justice and a 3.2 GPA, expressed pride that his younger siblings are following in his footsteps.
“It’s a good feeling to know that your legacy will live on. They could be anywhere else, but I’m glad they’re here going to the best HBCU in the world,” he said.
Two of the three young men share political aspirations, and even that is a bit of a rivalry. When LaCurtis Powell revealed that he wanted to be the first African-American governor of Mississippi, White interrupted saying: “No, my goal is to be the first African-American governor of Mississippi. LaCurtis always said he wanted to be the first African-American president.”White said he would make an excellent politician due to his disposition. “I feel like I have the personality. I can relate to people no matter where they’re from – another country, city, white or black. It doesn’t matter the circumstance – poor or rich. I feel I can bring people together, no matter where they come from.”
For Jaquan Powell, a junior political science major, his sights are set on a career in higher education. “I want to be the vice president of student affairs one day. I want to wake up and love my job. I feel this is an attainable goal.”
It’s evident the three have an affinity for leadership. LaCurtis Powell may have set the bar when he ran unopposed for Mr. Freshmen. In his role, he chartered Young Democrats, a student-led organization that encouraged voting among students.
“Jackson State has its own voting precinct. Elections showed that JSU didn’t always put up the (voting) numbers that it could potentially do,” he explained. “I figured if I chartered Young Democrats and informed people of their rights and the importance of voting, then I could increase the voting on campus. If everyone on campus voted, we could change the outcome of a whole election.”
As a result, LaCurtis Powell said that on-campus voting increased. He does not deny there were challenges with getting people to understand their voting rights and registering out-of-state students. “They felt like their votes really didn’t matter because they were not going to be here for an extended period,” he said.Jaquan Powell was inspired to run for Mr. Freshmen and sophomore class president by his older brother. However, he also had other motives.
“I didn’t want too many people calling me LaCurtis’ little brother. I wanted to make a name for myself,” he explained.
Jaquan Powell said that he also enjoys being of service to his classmates. “I know what it’s like to be in the dark and not really know anything. We need to always be in a position to help someone because one day you may need the same.”
His most memorable moment as Mr. Freshmen was standing at the 50-yard line on the football field at Veteran’s Memorial Stadium during homecoming. “I saw so many people stand up and clap. I’ve never been in front of that many people,” he said. “They’re all looking at you. They’re there for you. They’re proud. My mom was there, and my brothers. It was a great experience for me as a whole.”
White said his love for JSU stemmed from his infatuation with the Sonic Boom of the South. “I was in the band in high school. I play band music more than any other music. From 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., all my family heard was music by the Boom.”
Therefore, it’s not quite a revelation that he ended up at the HBCU or that he also ran for Mr. Freshman. “I was shocked when I won. I always felt like it was a possibility, but I wanted to stay humble. Plus, you never know how things may turn out.”
Encouraging students to be more involved on campus and in the community is a goal he hopes to accomplish in his role. “Most of them come from out of state and may feel like they don’t have a voice. I was talking to a girl on the plaza the other day,” he shared. “She’s from the Bahamas, and she told me she wants to hear more of her music at the hot spots. She wanted to feel more at home on campus. I agree. I feel like everyone should be included.”
As the family’s first Mr. Freshmen, LaCurtis Powell takes little credit for his brother’s accomplishments thus far. “I tried to exhibit leadership for them. I’m really big on letting them make choices on their own. When they decided to run for Mr. Freshmen, I didn’t help them with anything,” he explained. “I wanted them to prove they could do it on their own first. I’m huge on letting them do their own thing. I’ll step in if it’s necessary, but I want them to leave their own trail.”
Nonetheless, he did influence Jaquan Powell’s decision to join Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. “He would come home stepping, so that piqued my interest. I didn’t understand Greek life until the spring semester of my freshman year,” he explained. “I met Grant, Mister Jackson State; he’s like a brother and a mentor. He introduced me to the other line brothers – showed me how to be a positive role model.”
LaCurtis Powell shared that he pledged Alpha because of his mentor in the Big Brother Big Sister organization. “He was an Alpha. Growing up, I met different Alpha’s in various leadership positions. I love the way that they carry themselves and network. Of course, they are the oldest and the coldest.”
As far as personalities go, White said he and Jaquan Powell are the nice guys, while LaCurtis Powell is the more direct and hard-nosed. The eldest somewhat agreed then clarified. “I may talk about them, but I’m still going to help them out. It’s tough love.”