Growing up Jamelle Ingram, of Dudley, was considered a loner. “I had low self-esteem during my formative years,” Ingram admits. “In middle and high school, I remained isolated from my peers. I really only had one true friend.” As an outlet, Ingram played tennis. He lost often, but was satisfied with the knowledge that he was learning more about the game and himself with each match. It was in the classroom that Ingram thrived. During his junior year at Southern Wayne High School, he earned an MVP award for academic excellence. It was one of the highlights of his high school years.
After high school, Ingram took classes from Wayne Community College, where he earned his associate’s degree. He also took a part-time job at Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers in Mount Olive, which helped him to meet new people, establish friendships, and build bonds. For a time, he was content. However, as the years rolled by, Ingram began to yearn for more. A person of faith, he began to listen to his head and to his heart.
“My pastor at Deeper Life Church Ministries encourages our congregation to place ourselves in a position of humble servitude,” Ingram said. “For me, that means helping enhance students’ lives academically.”
This fall, at the age of 29, Ingram will begin his junior year at the University of Mount Olive where he is majoring in elementary education. “I am so very thankful to God for blessing me with this opportunity to grow and nurture the seed of purpose He has placed in my life,” Ingram said. “I am humbled and heartened by His will, His grace, and His mercy. I am forever indebted to Him, because He has kept me when I didn’t even know how to keep myself; and He loved me and allowed me to grow into the man that I am at this moment.”
Becoming a teacher is just one of Ingram’s long-term goals. “God-willing, I want to author children’s literature to promote everyday issues and feelings that face our youth.”
Ingram credits several educators for enriching his own life and for serving as role models in the teaching profession. “My fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Casey, taught me kindness and an openness to love everyone,” he said. “At UMO, Math Professor Dr. Brenda Cates has taught me how to break down complex subjects and translate them into a format that is easier to digest. UMO Assistant Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences Dr. Amanda Maxwell has blessed my entire life with her willingness to help others, her wonderful personality, and her teaching style. She has inspired me to always put my best foot forward, not only in the classroom, but also in all of life’s challenges.”
As Ingram looks to the future, he is on track to graduate in the spring of 2023. As he crosses the stage, he laughingly says he will be thinking to himself, “Feet, please don’t trip; pants, please don’t rip; and, in this moment, please get a grip. I will also remindmyself to smile big for the cameras, because that will be an astronomical moment in my life!”
Ingram is the middle son of Jerome and the late Thelma Ingram. His brothers are Jeremiah and Jacob Ingram. His grandmother, Elma Tatum lives in Roseboro.