Degree/Year: B.A., Business Administration, 1991
Hometown: Long Beach, Calif.
Current: Justin recently was named one of the 25 most influential people in Southern California.
How did your Samford degree/experience prepare you for your current role? At Samford, I studied business marketing and finance. Today, as executive director of a very successful nonprofit 501c3 that I founded called Community Action Team, I'm able to use marketing skills to organize and promote 60-70 annual projects, events and contests in the Long Beach (Calif.) area. The focus of the nonprofit is on three welfare areas: the environment, dogs and youth. The "dogs" part is ironic since the acronym of the nonprofit is CAT.
What Samford faculty member had the most influence on you and why? Dr. [Gene] Black was the one that had great influence for me. I was honored to sing in the A Cappella Choir for four years and did a few trips to Germany with the choir. And, I did a missions trip to Zambia with a small group from the choir. I went on to sing for Disney Special Events and enjoyed opportunities to sing for movie premieres and at [venues such as Disneyland]. As for the missions work, I'm looking forward to my third trip to rural Kenya this October to help AIDS orphans.
What would you say is the key to success in today's world? It's important to be well-rounded and diversified. I've learned that being sharp physically, mentally, socially and spiritually will sure help you to succeed. I've also found that it's important to be good and knowledgeable at a few different things, in case a career or job does not work out. So, in addition to my fulltime work running my nonprofit, I also do beach photography of people and their dogs, coach pageant interview skills to teen and older pageant contestants, teach group fitness classes and sell ads for some of the many e-newsletters I send out.
What is a favorite Samford memory? At Samford, some of the highlights for me were: being chosen by my peers as Homecoming King, being senior class president and speaking at graduation, being a [resident assistant] for a few years at Pittman Hall, being a Lambda Chi and being honored as brother of the year, emceeing Step Sing for two years, co-directing Step Sing one year, being active with the college group at Dawson Baptist Church, Jan-Term at the London Centre, a missions trip to Zambia, and being in the A Cappella Choir for four years. Can I choose all those as my favorites?
Why is giving back to the community so important to you? As Christians, we are called to serve. I've been gifted with skills it takes to organize and influence, and I want to bless others in big ways. I see people hurting physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. I make time to help and get involved. I don't have a cell phone and don't watch TV or movies, so that leaves me with some extra time that I can improve myself and the world around me. Serving is what brings me joy and comfort. I want to continue to live to give.