Meet Three 2020 Morehouse College Graduates Who Mastered The ‘Pandemic Pivot’
By any measure, the class of 2020 got a bum deal. Not only did many of them miss out on the normal pomp and circumstance celebrating their years of hard work, they were then thrust into an uncertain and fragile economy fraught with unprecedented challenges and unknowns. The CNBC article “The Class of 2020: unemployed, taking on debt and struggling to pay the bills” concluded “The majority of 2020 graduates have had their post-graduate plans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many unemployed.” Undoubtedly, their resilience was tested, not just by a single event but for an entire year—the critical first year of their professional lives.
These three Morehouse College graduates weren’t immune to these pandemic-induced challenges, but they are amazing examples of how many 2020 graduates embraced the “pandemic pivot” by using the resulting disappointments and unexpected redirection as motivation to fuel new, innovative ideas, opportunities and initiatives.
Here is a story from one of them Julien Turner:
When Morehouse football team captain and aspiring filmmaker Julien Turner graduated last year, he planned to spend the summer in Los Angeles as part of a post-graduate film internship which would have eased his transition to the USC School of Cinematic Arts Program in the fall. “Instead, I found myself returning home to Pickerington, Ohio to stay with my family throughout the duration of quarantine,” he reflects. “While it initially seemed like all of the momentum that was building up in my favor had come to a disappointing halt, my determination returned at the height of the growing racial tension in America as a result of the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.” In fact, this seminal moment reminded him of what ultimately drew him to filmmaking in the first place—the power of representation. His reignited passion and cumulative memories of friends raised in circumstances similar to Floyd inspired him to organize a peaceful protest in Columbus, Ohio with a fraternity brother Xavier Sims. At the event they distributed Covid-19 protective personal equipment and registered community members to vote.
With an impressive portfolio of short films under his belt, Turner was selected by Beats by Dre to be part of its inaugural Black Future Creator Class just a few months after the protest. “Through this program Beats by Dre produced one of my latest short films “Club Alli,” which is a sci-fi drama that I believe creatively depicts the current socio-economic divide in America,” explains Turner. Months later he was hired to write and co-direct the short film accompaniment to the Air Jordan X A Ma Maniere AJ3 shoe collaboration, “Raised by Women”—a poignant short film that highlights and celebrates Black women. Turner reflects, “While I could not have predicted where I would be a year from the start of Covid, I feel blessed today to have been able to weather the unforeseen difficulties and hope that my efforts this past year have moved my brother and me even closer to our first feature film.” Indeed, Turner aspires to follow in the footsteps of fellow Morehouse alumnus Spike Lee and USC alumni Ryan Coogler and Stephen Caples, Jr