By MARILYN TINNIN
JSU’s Jordan Jefferson
Jordan Jefferson is the 2016 valedictorian of Callaway High School and is now a sophomore at Jackson State University on a full academic scholarship.
“Well rounded” does not begin to describe this young man who is a dancer, an athlete, a scholar, and a visionary kind of giver who already has plans on the drawing board for a mentoring program for young African-American kids with great potential and few resources.
Jordan, the son of a football coach and a dance teacher, moved to Jackson when his dad became offensive coordinator at JSU in 2005. His mom established her own dance school in Byram and later joined the dance faculty at Hinds Community College.
From the age of five, Tiffany Jefferson had her son dancing. He mastered tap, ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and everything in between. By the time he graduated from high school, Jordan had performed on stage at both Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry and won more than a few talent and dance competitions. He also just happened to play the part of Simba in Hinds Community College’s production of The Lion King.
Jordan is certain that his dancing proficiency contributed greatly to his athletic expertise. He learned quickness, agility, and footwork that made him a star on the soccer field, the football field, and as a sprinter on the track team. Anybody who teased him for dancing quickly got over it the first time they saw him perform in the athletic arena.
And then there is academia. He shines there as well. Jordan has a self-imposed standard of excellence, and so it matters to him that in everything he does, he gives his 100% best effort. At Callaway, he was Vice President of the Student Body and President of the National Honor Society.
His drive for excellence can be attributed, at least in part, to his mother Tiffany, a strong Believer who says, “Raising a son in the South as a dancer, athlete, and as a Christian gentleman is NO accident. It is strategically planned out. And when one is so unconventional, one must know himself very well. And Jordan has been raised to understand the one true way to know yourself is to know your Creator, and therefore to discover and know your purpose.”
As outstanding and as filled with honors as his resume is, Tiffany tells stories of many honors he sought that he did not win. She considers those “failures” as important as the “wins” in building a resilient, confident son who is thoughtful, considerate, and able to be gracious—win or lose. She has seen his relationship with God strengthened in the times of disappointment as well as the times of victory. He has learned the important lesson that his job is to do his best. The results are in God’s hands. And that is okay.
Although his very large ambitions had him dreaming of attending Harvard or Columbia, those ambitions became much more local when he met Tyrone Keys. The Jackson native, former Mississippi State star and NFL Super Bowl XX champion founded All Sports Community Services Ministry in 1993 and has devoted his life to the mentoring and scholarship organization which identifies and helps fund educational opportunities for challenged youth. There is great emphasis on instilling in its participants a sense of community service, scholastic achievement, and a desire to nurture those same values in those who come after.
Jordan calls Tyrone a father figure. He can count on Tyrone to call several times a week to be sure his protégé is walking the straight and narrow.
Although Jordan’s scholarship to JSU was based on his academic record and was a full ride, he had a great desire to play football. He was likely the most motivated “walk on” Coach Tony Hughes had ever seen. He did indeed win a spot on the team. “Half-hearted” is not a term Jordan Jefferson knows!
Watch for this young man to make a difference in the world and that difference could be right here in Jackson. Jordan is a member at New Jerusalem Church in Jackson.
For more information on the All Sports Community Service Foundation and Tyrone Keys, see allsportscommunity.org.