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Alumni Engagement

Louise Novotny
Santa Rita Hall 108

Phone: (973) 290-4415
lnovotny@steu.edu

Dr. David Jefferson, Jr.

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Inspiring the Youth

A professional portrait of Dr. David Jefferson, Jr.

“When I was in first grade, my teacher tied me to a chair with a jump rope and left me there for more than an hour,” explains Dr. David Jefferson Jr., ‘21. While this abuse initially made David weary of educators, he soon realized that his calling was to become the person he needed most in that moment.

“My time in education has gone from trauma to triumph,” explains David, who recently earned his doctorate in educational leadership at SEU. “That experience set the backdrop for me working with at-risk students who have also had challenges in education.”

A multi-vocational leader, every aspect of David’s professional, vocational and personal life has centered on assisting and inspiring young people to overcome obstacles blocking their success.

In 2014, President Barack Obama tapped David to lead the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) in the city of Newark. Despite being in the midst of earning his master’s in divinity from Princeton University, David took a three-year leave of absence to lead this initiative. Dedicated to building safe and supportive communities where boys and young men of color feel valued, David helped these young people realize their potential through promoting effective programs and policies.

“The desire to help others stems from my mentors, great heroes and sheroes, that instilled in me a desire to serve and give back,” says David, a cum-laude graduate of Morehouse College. “I feel God has put me in a position to help others achieve their goals.”

Dr. David Jefferson, Jr. poses with a group in front of a large, colorful graffiti mural.As a third-generation Baptist preacher, David literally grew up with the tenants of compassion, love and service that surrounded the church. Passed from his grandfather to his father, their legacy inspired David to make his own mark on the world. Presently serving as a pastor at the Community Church of East Williston and engaged in family ministry at Metropolitan Baptist Church, David is intent on mentoring young people. In fact, he lives his life in accordance with Jeremiah 29:11, a Biblical passage that reads, “For I [God] know the plans I have for you.”

“I strongly believe everyone has a plan for their life,” says David, a recipient of the Kenyon J. Wildrick award in Homiletics. “As an academic advisor, adjunct professor and educational specialist for Kean University, my job is literally to help my students find their own path in life. When that path is obstructed, I find ways to break down doors in the system.”

Whether he’s inspiring young people in the church or the classroom, David has utilized the knowledge he acquired in every stage of his life to become the educator, mentor and teacher he needed as a child.