Jackson State University’s TRIO Talent Searchlaunched an inspirational talk featuring award-winning author Angie Thomas,held at the Rose E. McCoy Auditorium.
The event was a collaboration between the United Way of Jackson and the Trio Talent Search program, emphasizing the importance of academic support and providing diverse opportunities for students.
“It’s really inspiring for our young people to meet someone like Angie Thomas, who has been in their shoes. They deserve to be exposed to the greatest. It’s important for them to understand that one of the greatest comes from the same place they do. This is the kind of experience we should be curating for our youth and encouraging them to achieve what they are capable of, ” said Ebony Lumumba, Ph.D., chair of the Department of English, Foreign Languages and Speech Communications at JSU.
Lumumba led the session featuring Thomas, who shared her journey from growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, to becoming a renowned writer.
The auditorium echoed in loud cheers and palpable excitement as nearly 200 Jackson Public Schools (JPS) middle school students listened to Thomas share her journey to overcoming fear and embracing inclusivity in her work as she spoke about her latest magical and entertaining fantasy trilogy, “Nic Blake and the Remarkables.”
“It’s definitely scary to do something different. When you try something new, one of the first thoughts that comes to your head is about its inclusiveness. I constantly remind myself that I can’t live my life based on what others think. I believe that’s something we all have to practice,” she said.
Thomas also highlighted the significance of representing her hometown in her writings, which resonates with both locals and those unfamiliar with Jackson.
“Nic Blake and the Remarkables” traces the eyes of the main protagonist and narrator, Nic, a “remarkable” living in a world of “unremarkables” in Jackson, Mississippi, whose deepest desire is to become a powerful manifestor like her father. Thomas shows a magical world unknown to most and encourages young readers to appreciate their surroundings.
Thomas offered guidance to aspiring young creatives, urging them to persevere and embrace their unique talents. “Every step in learning and growing is valuable. Even if you face rejections, remember, it takes just one ‘yes’ to change everything,” she stated,recalling the 300 rejections she faced before her current book’s success.
The New York Times bestseller read the first chapter of her novel to the JPS students and engaged them in a Q&A session. She also gifted them with autographed copies of her latest novel.
Teresa Palmer-Jones, director of Talent Search Trio, expressed her aspirations for the students. “We hope this experience shows them that there’s always hope. Our goal is to introduce them to a world of possibilities beyond traditional paths like athletics or entertainment,” she said.
The Trio Talent Search program is dedicated to ensuring student success from middle school through college, offering comprehensive support to guide students toward their goals.