Second chance for Jonn
At 31, Jonn Warde sees life so differently now. He is a man with a family (a wife and a son), responsibilities, a Master’s degree in public administration, and a life he’s building in Atlanta, Georgia.
But Jonn knows that his story could have gone very differently had he continued on the path he was on.
“When I was growing up in Grazettes at age 20, I got into a physical altercation and got the police involved. Because of the circumstances of the event, they remanded me to jail,” Jonn recalled. “It was jail, jail. Across from me was a guy doing time for murder. While I was in there and I started to interact with people, the one thing that stood out for me was that nobody really wants to be in there.”
Being in jail also gave Jonn a great deal of time to think about his actions and his future, while he also spoke to other inmates.
“I actually tell people that the idea of going back to school came to me from an individual that was in jail,” he said. “While I was praying in jail the name Jesus really stood out to me. I prayed and prayed and really asked God for that second chance.”
After a week on remand, God “answered”Jonn’s prayers and he was released from prison.
“I went back to the O’Level Institute and started pursuing my CXCs,” Jonn said. “At the time I used to play football for Barbados. One of the players from the national team was back home from school. He was playing at a college in Massachusetts and he was telling me about school and I thought that’s something I could look into.”
Jonn did follow up and started looking at pursuing his education at the college level.
“Since I was 20 and a little old I had to start looking into college on my own,” he said. “I went toa college fair at Sherbourne and I went to the various schools and asked if they had any football teams and they said no. As I was leaving, there was one boothI realized I hadn’t gone to. The last guy I went to he said we have a football team and the coach is a Jamaican, and we hit it off and we started to send information back and forth but I still had a lot of groundwork to do.”
Jonn was able to get the CXCs he needed,but eventually ran into a block.
“The college recruiter was explaining to me that I needed a transcript from my secondary school. But I had dropped out of Coleridge & Parry when I was 15 so I had difficulty getting a transcript,” he said. “I was one on the phone with recruiter and time was getting close and he said I don’t think you’ll be able to make this semester. But I had faith and I believed I could get into college.”
After making some calls and what he believed was a bit of divine intervention, Jonn got a call from Wendy Griffith-Watson.
“I explained to her what I was trying to do and she told me to contact Coleridge & Parry and they’ll give you everything you need. I went and got the transcripts and put them together with my CXC’s and World Education Services combined them and it was credible enough that it got me into school.”
When the judge who had remanded Jonn learned that he was applying to college, he cleared his record so that he could go off to Monroe College in New York.
Not only did Jonn go to college, but he was playing football for the college as well.
“Being there and just concentrating on the studies I started to excel and made the Dean’s List consistently for a couple of years,” he said. “My mum was so happy.”
After finishing Monroe College, Jonn left New York and moved to Atlanta. He had met his girlfriend (now wife) and decided to relocate.
“We took another leap of faith, went down there, both found jobs and then I had a son,” Jonn said. “Then I started looking into graduate studies and did my Master’s degree. While doing my studies I came across a paper Early Childhood Intervention As A Long-Term Solution. I started reflecting on my life and the decisions that led me to make the choices I made, that’s actually the basis of my charity Chance at a Dream which provides early childhood intervention.”
On a more personal level, Jonn’s son Jeremiah is autistic so he knows that early intervention is key.
“I think prayer and good parenting had a lot to do with my change,” Jonn said. “Being a father too has changed me. My son and his disability also changed me. I’m very close to him and he’s been an inspiration to me to provide for him and steer him in the right direction. Being a father had made me much more stable. My wife, Takiyah, also played a major role in helping me to become the man I am. She pushes me to be a better man.”