‘Pay it forward’: Alumnus mentors others to plan for future, helps revitalize local community

Contact: Deanne Puca

A graphic showing arms of various skin tones outstretched under the words "Black History Month."

February is Black History Month, an annual celebration of achievements and a time to recognize the important role Black history plays in U.S. and Western history. This month, the University is celebrating Bronco alumni who’ve inspired change, pushed boundaries and paved the way for so many.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Alumnus and former student-athlete Jamauri Bogan learned at a young age the importance of having a safety net while also helping others. His mother let him job shadow her at insurance company Prudential Financial near his hometown of Union, New Jersey, when he was just 12 years old. The experience sparked an interest in personal investing and planning for a future that extends beyond himself.

Jamauri Bogan

Whether in the classroom at Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business or on the field at Waldo Stadium, he carried his passion to help others as a teammate, mentor and ultimately entrepreneur. He also made time to talk to area young people about investing while finishing his bachelor's and master's degrees in business at an accelerated rate in 2018 and 2019, respectively, all while playing football for the Broncos as a running back from 2014-18.

"Anything you do in life requires a great deal of focus and attention, as well as good people around you who are willing to help you," he says. "Growing up and at Western, we learned focus and drive but also about the importance of giving back. Everything I do revolves around that."

While at Western, he won numerous awards for his community service. At the 2019 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, he was honored with the Humanitarian Award. That same year, he was featured in a Fox Sports Detroit story about his financial literacy and leadership class he taught to male athletes at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo.

In 2018 while still playing football and obtaining a master’s degree, he partnered with teammate Curtis Doyle, a 2018 alumnus, and started real estate company Nekton Investments to purchase and restore blighted properties. Later that year, they purchased their first home for $2,500 and learned how to make hard decisions regarding contractors, raise capital for a real estate transaction and build relationships that extend after a transaction. The experience showcased his ability to deliver sizable returns to investors, and they continue to purchase and restore blighted properties today.

In 2020, Bogan launched Bogan Developments, a real estate development company focused on tackling the needs of moderate- to low-income communities through mixed-income developments. This includes affordable housing and access to affordable child care.

Jamauri Bogan in the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room  Bogan in the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room

Access to facilities such as Haworth's Greenleaf Trust Trading Room helped Bogan hone his financial literacy skills as a student.

Looking out for community

Bogan serves on various nonprofit boards of directors, including Kalamazoo Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Kalamazoo Economic Development Corporation, Community HomeWorks, Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership and First Tee Golf, as well as committees, like Big Brothers Big Sisters Junior Leadership Committee and Western's Real Estate Committee.

"I continue to learn every day. As I learn, I want to give that knowledge back," Bogan says, adding he continues to mentor young people.

Yet talking to people about financial planning for their future can be challenging if they are living day to day, Bogan says. Investing is "a patient man's game. When you're putting together a plan for budgeting, insurance and investments, all these things can be for 50 years in advance," he says. "When some people are just trying to pay the bills today and their kids are hungry, they're not thinking about their legacy and what 'could be' years down the road.

"And they don't know how to invest, because they've never been exposed to information," he adds. " I hope to make them curious, have them start chasing this, help them make decisions that will help them and this community."

Besides curiosity and drive, Bogan says there is the "power of a college degree" which contributed to his success—not only for the knowledge he obtained at Western but the relationships as well.

"There are many people who advocated for me. This community is important to me, and I want to pay it forward."

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