More than 130 fresh out of high school, college bound students, got a chance to attend Michelle Obama’s third annual Beating the Odds Summit at the White House. Interconnected with the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative and Better Make Room Campaign, panelists discussed how they overcame tough obstacles in life and the importance of receiving a higher education.
Grammy nominated singer, Jidenna, attended the event as a panelist, being one of the few mainstream artists in the music industry that attended college. He dropped gems on how he was able to make it through college and walk across the stage for graduation, in hopes of being able to inspire others to do the same. The singer’s introduction on the panel erupted with the sounds of ladies screaming and clapping in the audience, being proud fans of all the success he has attained.
His struggles living in Nigeria and moving to the U.S. later in his life didn’t discourage the goals he had set in his mind to accomplish. Attending school actually helped mold him along the way to become who he is today.
“When I originally came to the U.S., my mother came with a couple hundred dollars to her name,” Jidenna said. “I didn’t know we were struggling because she hid that from me. But it was definitely a struggle to get through life and get through school. And the thing that got me to where I am now though, is not just talent, it’s not just a hit record, but it actually was my education.”
While attending Stanford University, Jidenna was on his own, facing the real world. Coping with the new environment was tough for him, and he almost hit rock bottom mid way through. Although, he explains the rocky rollercoaster was well worth it. His word of advice on working through all that’s thrown your way is to invest in your future, stay focused, hang with the right crowd, and never give up.
“The one thing that I learned in college actually was that you may reach tremendous highs and tremendous lows,” he said. “I reached rock bottom, halfway through college. And it was — because of all the pressure that I think we’re talking about right now — the pressure to learn how to budget, the pressure to really abandon everything that you ever learned. You don’t have a comfort zone anymore. You don’t have your neighborhood. You don’t have your family with you. You have to figure out for yourself who you are now in two to four years, and then go out in the world and be somebody.”
Just like any other college student, Jidenna received pressure from his family at home. His dad often tried to steer him in a different direction, away from his plans of being a basketball player or in the music industry, but he fought for what he believed in, making his way to the top of the charts due to his musical talents and never giving up.
“I thought I had everything going for me. I wasn’t listening to nobody. And my dad was like, “Uh-uh, you can’t make money from music. You have to be a doctor, a lawyer, engineer. Something that’s going to do something for this world. Music doesn’t do anything.” And I had to fight that; his passion, and fight the society that I was from.”
If you’re looking for advice on how to get to and through college, watch the video below.