• Still from theatre production SERSE
  • Art Galleries
  • TV set
  • Performance Ensemble
  • guests and interviewer on Journalism set
  • violin section of orchestra

Receiving and Giving Back

November 21, 2022

By Jarrod E. Fasching

Jermaine Paul
Image courtesy of Jermaine Paul

Across the years, the Curb College has had its fair share of talented, dedicated, and passionate students who make indelible impressions during their time on campus. As we approach the season for giving back and sharing gratitude, we want to highlight an exceptional senior who embodies these virtues.

A bass player by training, Jermaine Paul says that he came to jazz music at a relatively late age when it captivated him in his junior year of high school. He spent the next two years working to build his skills and learn the craft of jazz with the support of mentors like retired CSUN professor Gary Pratt. Like many CSUN students, Jermaine faced financial challenges while pursuing his degree in Jazz Studies. With advocacy and support from faculty members like Pratt, Jermaine was selected as the Ella Fitzgerald Memorial Scholar, a program that provides scholarship support covering tuition for the student's entire time at CSUN. Jermaine has enjoyed this honor for four and a half years, and the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation has sent birthday gifts, holiday gifts, and even bought him a new MacBook Pro to support his studies.

Image courtesy of Jermaine Paul

“It was absolutely life-changing to receive this scholarship,” Jermaine says. “Every time I talk about my situation I have to admit that I’ve been blessed to have the financial support that allowed me to follow this path now. This support has broken barriers [so that] I can move freely pursuing my dreams.”

And move freely Jermaine has. He just returned from two weeks touring New Zealand and says that he had gigs every evening over the month of October. Having recently turned 21, his schedule accelerated exponentially as he’s now legally able to play in Los Angeles’s many 21-and-over venues. He credits much of his success to the experiences and faculty mentorship he enjoyed in the CSUN jazz program. “CSUN is all about community, and the jazz program is super uplifting,” Jermaine says. “It’s a family that supports each other.” He seeks to develop further as a bi-coastal jazz performer and to share his love and care for the music with a larger audience than the one he has already cultivated in Los Angeles.

The financial and emotional support Jermaine received from the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation proved a catalyst for his personal development. As he looks to the future he seeks to pay it forward and inspire other kids who grew up like him. Growing up in Compton, Jermaine says he wasn’t exposed to the music he loves so much today. He aims to introduce similarly situated kids to jazz through his new nonprofit, Inner City Music Mentors. “How can you know you love something if you haven’t been introduced to it?” he asks. Between in-classroom visits and a one-week summer program, this organization will help bring jazz music to a new younger audience and showcase exciting and rewarding career opportunities in pursuit of music. The organization will also help provide instruments to students so they can begin their own music pursuits. Jermaine has already raised funds toward instrument purchases.

When asked about the impact of support like the Ella Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship in Jazz, Jermaine responds, “If more students had what I had, Los Angeles would be a different place.” We couldn’t agree more.

The Curb College at CSUN is proud to be a place where students from all backgrounds and life experiences can come to discover their passions and develop skills and knowledge to build new futures. Scholarships are a major tool in furthering student potential and helping them to dream bigger. Multiplying the impact of such funds for students like Jermaine, they can provide the impetus for a lifetime of gratitude and paying it forward to others. We are similarly grateful to the generous members of our community who help meet the needs of our students and grow our capacity as a changemaker in the lives of future generations.