Many students face challenges starting college independently, adjusting to change, relocating, financial strains and new friendships, but some are more than ready for the challenge. Jarrod Gunn was.
Gunn is a graduating senior at Florida A&M University majoring in broadcast journalism. A native of Cocoa, Gunn is a first-generation college student.
He attended primarily white schools growing up. He knew he wanted to go to an HBCU in Florida to receive the support he needed in order to be a prosperous Black man in today’s society.
“I wanted to go to an HBCU in Florida. Bethune-Cookman was not up for debate, and it was too close to home,” Gunn said. “I wanted to leave home and create my success, which started here in Tallahassee.”
After graduating high school in 2017, Gunn decided to work for a few months and save money before relocating to Tallahassee to start his college journey. In the fall of 2018, he enrolled at Tallahassee Community College to earn his associate’s degree.
He graduated from TCC in 2020 just as the pandemic was turning the word on its head. He was ready to transfer to FAMU.
Gunn’s excitement for his first FAMU experience quickly turned into disappointment because of COVID restrictions. Classes on campus were prohibited. This meant he had to spend his first time on campus virtually through a computer.
But he didn’t let that challenge stop him from creating bonds with his classmates.
“Once I transferred, the best thing that happened to me was meeting people, mainly DJs and promoters. As soon as I became comfortable with the right people, I started having game nights, and then I started gaining the people’s attention for having fun game nights,” Gunn said.
Gunn’s progress was abruptly halted n May 2021 when he lost his mother, a victim of COVID. Gunn says he was very close to his mother, but he began a spirited comeback as he dedicated his journey to his mother.
“It was hard pushing through then, especially talking to her the night before she passed away,” he said. “The morals and values she instilled in me still carry with me to this day. She gave me the blueprint, and I followed it. Everything I do is for myself and my mother. I owe her that,”
After experiencing that tragic event, everything he did became personal. He took no time off from school.
In the fall of 2021, the COVID mandate was modified, allowing students to return to campus. Gunn knew this would be the perfect opportunity to establish himself and take his future business career seriously.
He credits the School of Journalism & Graphic Communication for helping him network with people who knew how to promote themselves and helping him step outside of his comfort zone. One student in particular, Travis Williams, gave him the courage to take his talent seriously.
Williams, a fourth-year graphic design major, says he always knew Gunn had the talent and capabilities to become something incredible.
“I knew he had potential when I saw how he came in the entertainment game. I applauded how he wanted to do it the right way. He didn’t try to shortcut anything. He understood it would take hard work and dedication to be successful in this industry. Now a year later from starting his promotion business he’s extremely successful and has a household name,” Williams said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”
After months of learning the ins and outs of being a successful promoter, Gunn established his brand Gunnzz.
Gunnzz is his stage name for promoting. His promotion business was a quick way to earn income and continue to establish a face.
While his business continued to grow and become successful, he wanted the people to know what his business stood for and meant.
“My goal is to have everyone leaving the event with a smile, and for them to be like, whoever is over this event, I’m coming back. Life’s too short, everyone should live at least once,” Gunn said.
As the revenue started flowing, he couldn’t shake the feeling that he was always taught to remember, never lose sight of what matters the most, his education.
Gunn is a student by day and a businessman at night. He believes that planning and scheduling are significant. Proper prioritizing helps him continue to be sufficient in all his personal and business moves.
“I focus on school when I’m at school, and when I’m outside of school, I focus on my business. I take one day at a time by understanding I can only handle what’s directly in front of me. I can’t get in front of myself. I must take one step at a time,” Gunn said.
Gunn is in his last days as an undergraduate student. He knew he wanted to establish a legacy that would last a and create bonds in order to give back to the community. Most importantly, he wanted to fulfill his promise to his mom before she died.
“I became a member of Kappa Alpha Psi when I saw the brotherhood and what the brothers represented on campus. Becoming a member was a long goal of mine and one last thing I promised my mom I would accomplish the day before she passed away, so at that point, it became personal, and I had to finish the mission,” Gunn said.
For anyone with second thoughts or self-doubt, Gunn believes no matter the situation, never forget who you are.
“People give up because they feel they can’t make it through. But if God brought you to it, he’ll bring you through it,” Gunn said.
After graduation, Gunn plans to earn his master’s degree and continue to promote. You might hear about him promoting your favorite artist’s party someday.
For more information on Gunn’s events, check out his Instagram page @gunnzz585