By Breanna Chase, Class of 2017
On Thursday, December 19th, local entrepreneur, author and philanthropist Jean Alerte visited Uncommon Charter High School in Crown Heights. He recently published his book, Do Right Do Good: An Easy-to-Use Guidebook Towards Vision Fulfillment and Entrepreneurship. Mr. Alerte’s relationship with UCHS started when Paulette Johnson, mother of UCHS student Justin Smith, visited Mr. Alerte’s frozen yogurt shop, Brooklyn Swirl. While talking about the book with Mr. Alerte, Ms. Johnson decided to purchase Do Right Do Good for her son. Ms. Johnson brought the book to UCHS and suggested that Mr. Alerte come in to talk to the students. Subsequently, Mr. Alerte spoke to Gillian Cartwright, the Dean of Students, who explained that UCHS needed to assign a winter read for the ninth-grade students. It turns out that Mr. Alerte’s book was perfect for the job!
After inscribing each student’s book with an inspiring message, Mr. Alerte visited UCHS to speak to the freshman class. He encouraged the students to stay in school, surround themselves with the right people and follow their passions. Mr. Alerte declared, “I want to inspire students by showing them that a person in their community can have dreams come true by working hard”. He hopes to build a long-term relationship with the school and eventually start a mentoring program.
Mr. Alerte expressed that it is very important to work with the local youth because they are part of his community. His top priority is inspiring other young people to give back, be more active in the community, stay in school and do the right thing. He admires the energy in today’s youth. “It keeps me moving,” he states. Because of that energy, he knows that in order to empower students, he has to stay on top of his game and never be complacent. When Mr. Alerte left UCHS on the evening of the 19th, he hoped that the part of his message that resonated with students most was to follow your purpose and be a leader. He wants them to feel motivated to get up and start pursuing their dreams right now. He is sure that if they grasp onto his lessons in the book, such as taking advantage of opportunities and surrounding themselves with the right people, they will be successful in life. He advised the students to “get prepared because the real world is going to hit you pretty soon”. Observing an entrepreneur interact with the students, parents and teachers was exhilarating; Mr. Alerte lit up the room and left his audience feeling inspired.
Mr. Alerte is a busy person, working nine hours at Brooklyn Swirl and completing many tasks throughout the day. He finds that his biggest challenge is fitting in everything he has to do in one day. Thankfully, he found time to visit the UCHS students. Both the students and the staff would like to thank Mr. Alerte for his time and inspiring words. They can’t wait to see him again after the holidays when he will return to discuss everyone’s opinions of the book!