After a serious fracture that took him out for a whole season, Jamal Barnes made an incredible comeback and his high school basketball team went on to win the state championship. It led his team to rank among ESPN’s top 25 high school basketball teams that year.
“I had a great comeback,” Jamal says, adding that it’s one of the accomplishments he’s most proud of because it also put him on the path to receiving a full basketball scholarship to St. Thomas Aquinas College.
Jamal began playing basketball when he was 7 years old. “Growing up, I played a lot of sports so at first it wasn’t anything of note to me,” he says. But after he started going to basketball aftercare in second grade, he realized he was good at the sport and also really liked it. “All the people I met through the camp and the coaches and, of course, my parents who believed in me kickstarted my love of the game,” he adds.
When Jamal arrived at STAC, he planned on pursuing a degree in psychology. However, as much as he connected with his professors and was interested in the field, he realized it wasn’t the direction he wanted to head in for his career. In high school, he explored another interest which, combined with his love of sports, resurfaced in college and became the focus of his studies: digital media.
“I taught myself how to use Adobe Photoshop to create sports graphics,” he says. “After learning on my own, I joined a class in which my teacher helped me explore all the things that made me want to become a social media marketer by creating ads as well as plans to sell products and such.”
Down the road five years or so, Jamal hopes to be playing basketball in Spain, partly because he is adept at conversational Spanish, thanks to his high school classes in the language and time spent practicing it with close friends who are natives of Spanish-speaking countries. In the same timeframe, he also hopes to be in the early part of his career as a social media marketer.
Jamal listens to R&B music and spends time outdoors in his free time. Originally from Temple Hills, Maryland, he also enjoys time with his family — his parents and three brothers.
“School is what you make it,” he says about college life. “No matter where you go, it will be hard to have fun if you don’t find ways to get involved. Luckily, STAC makes it easy.”