Jonathan Grant-Brown arrived at the Minnesota School of Business-Brooklyn Center campus on the morning of Thursday, May 8, 2014, thinking he would be giving his presentation to a group of students as part of an AVID Student Appreciation Day.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a program aimed to increase learning and performance by preparing students for college. Minnesota School of Business is just one of three AVID for Higher Education (AHE) schools in the state of Minnesota. Brown is an AVID alumnus, motivational speaker and works as a program manager for AVID. After being abandoned by his mother and growing up in foster care, he was introduced to the AVID program when he was in ninth grade and says it changed his life. He went from not caring about school at all to now starting his Ph.D. this fall.
“I’m not necessarily the smartest, but I learned how to be a good student,” he says.
Brown has visited the Brooklyn Center campus on previous occasions to share his personal story and journey to success. On this particular visit, however, Brown spoke to the group of students, staff and faculty and then turned it over to Campus Director Diana Igo for what he thought was a special student presentation. Little did Brown know, Igo began to explain what a difference Brown has made to the campus and its AVID program and how inspired they all are by him and his story.
“Jonathan has faced adversity head-on, and we admire his strength and dedication,” Igo says. “The first time I heard him speak, he mentioned it was his lifelong dream to have a building dedicated to him.”
As soon as Igo said this, Brown gasped, and he knew this wasn’t an ordinary presentation.
“Thanks to Minnesota School of Business and Jeff Myhre, CEO, we are proud to announce that the Brooklyn Center campus will now be dedicated to Jonathan Grant-Brown,” Igo said as she presented him with a plaque that will be hung on the second floor of the campus, as well as an award that he could take with him. She explained that the two figures on the award resemble the AVID logo and represent Brown and his support system.
Everyone, including Brown’s colleague, AVID Program Manager Dr. Betty Krohn, was in on the surprise, and Brown had no idea.
“I’m the type of person who knows what all my Christmas presents are before I open them,” Brown said about how shocked he was that the dedication was such a well-kept secret. When asked if he would like to say a few words, he said he was speechless but managed to give a piece of advice to the students in the audience as he accepted his award.
“People will tell you all day every day that you can’t do it – that you can’t succeed,” Brown said through tears. “It’s hard, but life is so much easier and the air is so much fresher on the other side. This is amazing.”
For more information on the AVID for Higher Education program at the Brooklyn Center campus, please call 763-566-7777.