Kishawn Jean-Pierre, a junior Accounting major, was honored with the $5,000 Promise Prize during a May 3 ceremony at Montclair State.
The Marie Nesbitt Promise Prize is awarded annually by the Change Create Transform Foundation, which recognizes and rewards academic excellence and encourages leadership, scholarship, service and philanthropy. The prize was established in 2002 by the foundation’s founder Vikki Pryor, in memory of her grandmother Marie Nesbitt, who was a great-granddaughter of slaves who held jobs ranging from domestic worker to welder.
The Promise Prize is awarded to a black entrepreneurship or business student with the following traits: academic excellence (high GPA), leadership, scholarship, initiative, service and entrepreneurship. The winners, who are called Scholars, become part of a community that networks together and holds an annual summit.
“I would like to express my sincerest gratitude for being selected as the recipient of the Promise Prize,” said Jean-Pierre. “Your financial generosity allows me to be one step closer to my career aspirations, and inspires me to help others by giving back to the community. As a Promise Prize Scholar, I look forward to assisting current and future Scholars to achieve their goals, just as you have helped me.”
Jean-Pierre expressed a sentiment intrinsic to the Promise Prize program: staying connected with current and future scholars. As an example of that philosophy, Jean-Pierre received his award from Stanley Fils, the 2016 Promise Prize winner. When Fils received the award, he was an MBA student who also received his undergrad degree from Montclair State, majoring in Justice Studies with a minor in Sociology. Fils currently works in Montclair State’s Financial Aid Office.
The Promise Prize was awarded as part of Montclair State’s annual student pitch contest, where entrepreneurship students showcase their startup projects.
Jean-Pierre has a 3.79 GPA (3.806 in his major). While most Accounting students take 5 years to get the 150 credits needed to sit for the CPA exam, Jean-Pierre is doing it in four years by taking summer and winter classes, as well as extra credits during fall and spring. He has been an audit intern at Wiss & Company, LLP, and an accounting intern at Capodagli Property Company.
“Kishawn exhibits an admirable work ethic, initiative and dedication to juggle all this, and still maintain a stellar GPA,” the Promise Prize selection committee noted in its rationale for selecting him.
Jean-Pierre also has volunteered at Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation hospital, and volunteers officiating at a recreational basketball league in his town. Jean-Pierre told the selection committee he wanted to give back, because he played in the same league when he was younger. Beside the service aspect, officiating allows him to develop leadership skills, and he also has displayed leadership by training new staff and interns at Capodagli.
Jean-Pierre has an entrepreneurial spirit, including considering opening his own accounting firm someday so he can “start from the bottom, and watch myself grow.”
The Promise Prize was first awarded at Montclair State in 2014, and Montclair State is one of nine colleges/universities in the U.S. with the award. The 2014 winner was Alanda Alexandre, who graduated in May 2015 with a Business Administration degree with concentrations in Finance and Management, and then enrolled in Montclair State’s MBA program in fall 2015.
The 2015 winner, Dana LaCondre-Nugent, was honored while pursuing a Master’s in Accounting after receiving a Bachelor’s in Accounting from Montclair State in 2008.
The selection committee for the 2017 Promise Prize included: Accounting Professor Agatha Jeffers, Marketing Professor Devon Johnson, Career Services Coordinator Mariah Mayers, Finance Professor Hermann Sintim-Aboagye, and Feliciano Center Program Manager Sharon Waters. Accounting Department Chairwoman Susana Yu also attended the ceremony.