Torrence Banks, News Editor
There are many Morehouse faculty members that have children that attend Morehouse College and other schools in the AUC. This year, the Maroon Tiger has decided to highlight several students and see how being on the same campus as their parents has impacted their experience.
Morehouse’s Director of Event Support Services James Smartt Sr. has a son named James Smartt Jr., who is currently a junior Kinesiology major at Morehouse. Smartt Sr. was in a similar situation as an undergrad at Central State University, where his dad was a Dean at the school.
“I grew up on Central State campus and James is growing up on Morehouse’s campus,” Smartt Sr. said. “I’ve been here for 19 years and he’s 20 years old now. He’s been coming here since he was in a car seat.”
While Smartt Sr. was always confident that Morehouse was the best school for his son, he was not always sure that it would be the school that he attended. Smartt Jr. was initially interested in attending the University of Oregon to study fashion and was not sure that he wanted to attend Morehouse until the end of his junior year in high school. Despite his decision to attend Morehouse to study kinesiology, Smartt Jr. still wants to be a sports apparel designer.
“He’s so into Nike and he knew [Oregon is] where the headquarters was at,” Smartt Sr. said. “He wanted to be close there because he thought that he would have a better shot at working for Nike if he went to the University of Oregon.”
Smartt Jr. described his experience at Morehouse as comedic. He forgets that his dad works at Morehouse sometimes.
“It’s a good thing,” Smartt Jr. said. “Because it means that I’m trying to be independent, which I am.”
Smartt Sr. said, “The first year, I think that he was trying to get his own identity so he wasn’t around a lot. Even though I wouldn’t see him, he had to get a good feel for how it would be being on the same campus.
“After that, I think he was more comfortable knowing that we were able to coexist in the same spot without being teased.”
Associate Vice President for Student Life Kevin Booker has a son named Jordan Booker and a daughter named Amber Booker who go to Morehouse and Spelman respectively. Jordan is a freshman at Morehouse and Amber is a senior at Spelman.
Morehouse wasn’t Jordan’s first choice because he grew up on the campus.
“To have your life history be involved with Morehouse and go there, for some it’s a great experience,” Booker said. “But for others, it’s a little challenging.
“I see him, I’m a proud father,” Booker said. “I’m not Dean Booker or Associate Vice President Booker. It’s a meaningful experience. I wish many of my colleagues could experience what I’m experiencing with my son here.”
Jordan took part in the Coca-Cola Leadership Program as a rising sophomore in high school. Morehouse faculty member and alum Perry Washington along with other students who worked in that program made an impact on Jordan. Booker’s ability to also get Travis Scott to perform in the 2017 Homecoming concert also left Jordan feeling that attending Morehouse would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“I think that experience was so positive for him that he knew that Morehouse would be on his short list,” Booker said discussing the Coca-Cola Leadership Program.
“He texted me that night when he got home, because I was still here when the concert was over, making sure that everything was straight on campus. ‘Dad tonight was the greatest night of my life. Travis Scott touched my hand.’”
Meanwhile, Booker’s daughter, Amber, tried to avoid telling people who her dad was so that she could create her own identity in the AUC. During her sophomore year, she decided to embrace the fact that her dad worked at Morehouse. This led to her becoming closer with her dad and the faculty at Morehouse and Spelman.
“I think it changed my experience for the better,” Amber said, “being able to have that community at Morehouse whenever I was having a hard time. I also ended up having a job at Morehouse my sophomore year.”
Booker says that his favorite part about having his son on campus is seeing him become a man. He believes that his son is starting to understand why his dad does what he does for a living.
“‘Dad I get it, I understand why you do what you do. It makes sense to me.’” Booker said. “As a kid, we understand what our parents do for a living, but we don’t always understand.”’