In the heart of Benton Harbor, Michigan, a young man named Keonte Turner grew up in a single-parent household, where he faced some adversities and had to navigate through challenging circumstances. With the environment presenting its share of difficulties and negative influences around, Keonte had to overcome certain hurdles. However, his life took a turn when he became part of the Jobs for Michigan's Graduates (JMG) program. Today, as we celebrate 15 years of JMG programming, we shine a spotlight on Keonte Turner, an extraordinary JMG alumnus from our very first program back in 2008.
Keonte Turner's JMG journey began at Benton Harbor High School, where he was guided by the remarkable specialist at the time, Olivia (Hilerio) Huggins. Her dedication and mentorship shaped his path, helping him define his goals and discover a new purpose. JMG provided Keonte with invaluable tools and resources that he would not have otherwise had access to. It equipped him with essential career readiness skills and interview techniques, preparing him for the professional world beyond high school. Reflecting on his time in JMG, Keonte fondly remembers the impactful moments he shared with his specialist.
“Without the support of my specialist, Mrs. Huggins, I don’t believe I would have ever gotten to a place where I would realize my true potential. Mrs. Huggins changed the lives of many students, and I am grateful to have been one of them.”
The program's creative projects and activities allowed him to explore areas beyond the conventional school curriculum, broadening his horizons and fostering his personal growth. Moreover, JMG opened doors to various job opportunities, leading Keonte to a prestigious position as a congressional intern for Representative Fred Upton. For Keonte, JMG was not just a program; it was a blessing that provided him with the support he needed to pursue his dreams.
Keonte finished the JMG program in 2010 and was accepted to 35 different colleges, ultimately attending Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson, Mississippi where he served as the President of the Student Government Association, founded the Student Health Advisory Committee, and conducted research for Harvard Medical School. Graduating in 2015 with a Pre-Medical Biology degree, he decided to relocate to California and pursued a career in healthcare, becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative. Keonte's ambition led him to earn an MBA from Johns Hopkins University's Carey Business School, aspiring to become a CEO in the pharmaceutical industry. Keonte's bicoastal lifestyle between California and Maryland added excitement to his journey.
Despite excelling in healthcare, Keonte's true passion lies in acting. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he discovered his calling and pursued his dream relentlessly. With an impressive acting resume, including appearances in TV shows and films, Keonte has shared the stage with renowned personalities like Kelly Clarkson and Ellen DeGeneres. While honing his craft through acting classes, he also works as a hospice care consultant, continuing his healthcare career on the side. Keonte remains fully committed to his ultimate goal of starring in blockbuster films.
Keonte's story is an inspiration to us all. His journey showcases the power of resilience, mentorship, and the impact that programs like JMG can have on a young person's life.
As we celebrate 15 years of JMG programming, Keonte Turner's story reminds us of the transformative power of this program. JMG continues to change lives, offering opportunities and guidance to young people who may be navigating uncertain paths. It is a testament to the commitment and dedication of the JMG network, who have relentlessly worked towards empowering students and shaping their futures.