Andrell Harris, a 27-year-old Washington, D.C.-based consultant and Jackson State University alum, has donated $55,555 to the institution to create a scholarship endowment for College of Business students.
There’s a reason his donated figure is all 5’s – “I graduated from Jackson State five years ago,” says Harris, who has a finance degree.
With the university match, the endowment will be over $110,000, enough to yield a $4,400 annual scholarship for students who maintain a 3.3 grade point average.
This isn’t the first contribution for Harris. He established an annual $1,000 scholarship fund at JSU in December 2012. He says he gives back because the JSU community has always embraced him.
“It’s been really special to me because in every city that I’ve worked in, I’ve always had graduates reach out to me,” he says.
David Hoard, vice president for Institutional Advancement at JSU, is hopeful Harris’ donation will inspire other young, successful alumni.
“The importance of doing what you can to help others can never be overstated,” Hoard said. “Much of Jackson State’s success can be attributed to the support of its alumni.”
At JSU, Harris served as president of JSU’s Student Government Association in 2007. He says the leadership experience he received on campus helped his overall progress and mobility in corporate America.
“When the students voted me in as a leader, they basically told me that they believed in where I was going and that I had the potential to be the leader for Jackson State,” he says. “It wasn’t just a commitment I made while I was here. It was a lifetime commitment. I’m hoping that other alums who can do the same thing, will come back and give to the university.”
Harris was already a business owner by the time he reached JSU. When he was 16, he bought a gumball vending machine for $75 and put together a “business plan” in his head before signing a deal with a high-traffic supermarket.
By the time he was senior at JSU, he had about 60 gumball machines in businesses stretching from Jackson to Magee to Vicksburg. He sold his business during his senior year.
In the five years since graduating, Harris also has consistently invested in the stock market, building a portfolio that will not only secure his future but also enables him to benefit his alma mater.