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Alumni Spotlight: Jacque Terrell

(March 23, 2020) - As Clayton State University celebrates its 50th anniversary, one cannot look back on the impact of the institution without thinking about our professors. The faculty here have shaped the lives of many of our alumni, and we wanted to share one specific story. The message below was sent last week by alumnus Jacque Terrell ’16 to Professor Ken Nguyen of the College of Information & Mathematical Sciences.

Jacque Terrell

Hi Professor Nguyen.

You may not remember me as I graduated about four years ago in 2016. My name is Jacque' Terrell; one of your classes had an astounding impact on my career, and I wanted to tell you a little about your contribution and how it has allowed me to live the life that I live today.

Some time ago during my junior year I had the pleasure of taking your class on Android Development. Around that time, all of my colleagues were telling me not to take that class because none of us knew Java (we had learned C++) and they knew it would be challenging. But something pushed me to take the class anyway. We started with only ten students, and, by the end, only six remained. I received a final grade of a B, but it was the most proud B I had earned as a student.

A year later I found myself unable to sleep as I was not sure what path I was supposed to take in my career. I had interned at a well-known company, but I had been bored with the work and knew that I would not enjoy working there. Depression set in as everyone was telling me that I was crazy for not wanting to work there, I thought that maybe I had chosen the wrong career. After some time I remembered your Android course. It was the only subject in Computer Science that I thoroughly enjoyed. I spent my senior year getting a Java book from the library and teaching myself Java from the ground up. I then bought a book on Android programming and re-taught myself the ins and outs of Android Development. All of my colleagues thought I was wasting my time. While they were off looking for jobs and being nervous about graduation, I was working everyday by investing in myself. My wife took up the role as the bread winner in the house, and I spent all of my time studying my own programming books and creating free Android apps for others as a means of gaining experience.

As of right now, I own my own company that I contract out my services as an Android Developer. I have three contracts right now and for over a year I have worked 100% from home. I have contracts with Walmart, Cigna Health, and have worked with Dave Ramsey's company Ramsey Solutions. I moved my family from Georgia to California on my own dime, and my wife has been able to be a house wife for the last three years and put all her time into raising our daughter, Athena. We were able to buy our dream car and are currently working on another business venture. In my spare time I mentor other aspiring developers, giving them tips and helping them go from no experience to having their dream jobs.

When I was a student, I was astounded by how we never saw any of the alumni come back and tell us how it was in the real world. I made up my mind after graduation that I would aspire to be somebody who would change that. I would love the opportunity to come back to Clayton State University and encourage a few students by telling them my story. There is so much opportunity in this field, and I feel it to be my responsibility to share that and to give back to the university. Would you allow me the honor to share my story with a few of your students?

Again, professor, my family and I are extremely grateful that I got to take your course on Android Development and I look forward to speaking with you soon.

Warmest regards,

Jacque' Terrell

Android Developer and Founder of Zenlight Technologies

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