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CAU Alum Finds a Way to Make a Way

CAU Alum Finds A Way To Make A Way

He graduated in 1995 but it wasn’t easy. During his sophomore year at Clark Atlanta University, Jerry Ellis almost gave up in his quest for a college degree. His major was Biology but Jerry participated in other extracurricular activities at the university as well. One of those interests was being a member of the Clark Atlanta University Jazz Orchestra, headed by CAU professor James Patterson. Jerry played tenor sax and traveled with the orchestra around the United States for personal appearances and also to Europe, when the band would make appearances with several renowned Jazz artists recognized on the world stage.

His contact, on another level, with professor Patterson came when in Jerry’s sophomore year his mother told him that she could not afford to pay the balance on his college tuition. Heartbroken, this young man had to face the task of disclosing his situation with Professor Patterson. It was difficult for him, but he told his professor that he would not be participating in the Jazz Orchestra anymore. He also told his mentor that he was going to have to withdraw from college altogether and explained why. Shortly after that, Jerry had another conversation with Mr. Patterson and was shocked when his Jazz Orchestra Director told him that “you are not going anywhere. Your tuition has been taken care of by concerned CAU alums who heard about your situation and they have cleared your balance.” This inspired Jerry, and he made a promise to himself that, if he ever got a chance, he would do that same thing for a student, and that he would do it 10,000-fold!

Eventually, after college and being an entrepreneur, he set up a business model to donate 50% of his profit from online travel booked on a special website to Clark Atlanta University. Jerry recently met with his former Jazz Professor Dr. Patterson to thank him for what he did, and to present him with a special photograph containing several noted personal images of renowned Jazz artists that Professor Patterson and the Clark Atlanta University Jazz Orchestra has performed with. Each photo is autographed by the individual artist.

Last updated on February 27, 2023

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