NFL’s Malcolm Jenkins Talks The Power Of Mentorship And New “School Of Swagger” Partnership

Two-time Super Bowl Champion and New Orleans Saints safety, Malcolm Jenkins, has teamed up with Old Spice to launch a new mentorship program for Black and brown boys in high school called  School of Swagger.

School of Swagger is the second chapter of Old Spice’s10-year Brand Ambition plan to increase high school graduation rates nationwide by ten percent.

School of Swagger students are paired with adult mentors who arm them with the necessary resources, materials, and support to take on the real world. Mentors guarantee to connect and inspire their mentees and empower them with the confidence to make it through commencement.

To kick off School of Swagger, Jenkins posed as a substitute gym teacher to surprise the students of West Jefferson High School in Illinois. The students learned a great deal from Jenkins through conversations, encouragement, and a few NFL-level football drills. 

Malcolm Jenkins understands the power of mentorship. “Studies show that having a mentor gives you a 95% chance of graduating high school. If we look at that, the dropout rates are at an all-time high right now,” Jenkins tells Blavity U.  “Mentorship is needed more than ever.  It’s been an honor for me to really partner with Old Spice on the initial initiative.”

With only 1 in 3 American students having a mentor today, high school dropouts have become a concern in America. The Piscataway, NJ native goes down memory lane as he explains how Larry Lester, his high school mentor and football coach, shaped him and his peers.

“Larry Lester affected thousands of kids and was a great mentor to me,” he tells Blavity U. “He really helped me navigate being an athlete, a student, and all of the social pressures of being a young black kid. So being able even to see a black man as an educator was something I was extremely privileged to have in Piscataway.”

“I know that [mentorship] is something that not everybody gets to have,” Jenkins continued.  “It was very, very important for me in my developmental stages to really have not only my dad but to have another voice that can watch me when I’m outside of the house. A voice that can give me advice on some of the things that I was going through that my parents couldn’t relate to.”

Mentorship can be a valuable tool for turning one’s dreams into reality with the proper guidance, building blocks, and encouragement. Mentors have helped many gain solid footing within their lives and career trajectories.

“The biggest thing [Lester] told me was to be prepared and pay attention to the process of what you want to do. Everybody can look at the finish line right but don’t understand that there are steps in between,” said Jenkins. “There’s a definitive start and the finish; that’s where you run the race.”

“You finish at the line, but you win the race through those steps that you take. So always pay attention to your process, preparedness, and plan to achieve whatever goal you want to achieve. That’s really the biggest thing I took from my mentor,” Jenkins concluded.

Ultimately Jenkins wants young Black and brown boys to know, “the biggest thing is understanding who you are because the world is obviously filled with different narratives, different examples, and people can define who you are based on what they know or what they’ve experienced, but they don’t know who you are.”

“At the end of the day, you’ve gotta be able to figure out what you want, what you enjoy, use your imagination, understand who you are in this world, and stand firm on that, no matter what the space is that you’re in,” Jenkins explains.

For the launch of School of Swagger, Old Spice and Jenkins have also has teamed up with Walmart, America’s Promise, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America. Watch our entire interview with Malcolm Jenkins below.

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