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        College, Students

        Home is Where Harbert Is: Meet Jade Rice

        March 8, 2022 By Michele Jackson

        All News
        Harbert Business Complex

        Editor's Note

        Many Auburn students are generational legacies, students who grew up loving Auburn, and who have an affinity that has been passed down from their parents and other family members. But, what about those who are first-generation Auburn students? Students that are not “Auburn born.”  We at the Harbert College of Business wanted to know what it is that draws a student from another part of the country to Auburn University. Why Auburn? Why the Harbert College of Business? This five-part series will highlight students from across the U.S., and we’ll dive in to find out why they now believe in Auburn and love it too.

        Meet Jade Rice

        Jade Price and his friendJade, an elite swimmer from Long Valley, New Jersey, signed with Villanova and began his college career. Villanova – close to home and familiar – was a safe choice, but injury forced Jade to put his college career on hold for a time. Back home in community college and working at Starbucks, his future changed course when he met a co-worker who had chosen Auburn and encouraged him to visit.  Now just a few short years later, Jade is set to graduate from the Harbert College of Business in May.

        From New Jersey to Auburn

        The New Jersey area where Jade was raised isn’t so different from the landscape in Auburn, Alabama.  Just a bit more than an hour train ride from New York City, his hometown is small-town America, just 30 minutes south of the Appalachian Mountains.  That’s a familiar feel for Jade as Auburn is a college community just an hour and a half south of Atlanta, with plenty of open space and rural area just outside of town. But what Jade found to be different, unfamiliar even, was the culture. And that culture is what really drew him to Auburn.

        After injuring his ankle and walking away from his swimming scholarship, Jade had to find himself.  He spent a year-and-a-half at home, working, recovering, and searching.  He knew he wanted a degree.  He just had no idea from where, so he worked and took classes at the local community college. 

        Jade was taught that failing to plan was planning to fail.  So, he began his research.  He researched his planned major and pre-requisites, what classes were offered for Marketing, even what certifications are provided at several southern universities the University of Georgia and the University of Florida.

        During his search, he connected with the Harbert College of Business on LinkedIn and found the college had many alumni working in major cities like New York, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, and Los Angeles. He found what he was looking for in the academics and he found a vast alumni network in areas he would like to work. But he also found he had a lot of work to do to meet the universities stringent admissions requirements.  

        Time to visit

        Jade Rice at Auburn Football GameJade visited on a perfect weekend.  Auburn was shining in all her glory.  A football weekend on the plains had the community donning its “Saturday” best.  Jade saw the people.  He met “the family” - people tailgating, offering those passing by a bite to eat, kids playing football on the green grass and everyone - he especially remembers the kids being dressed in all orange -presenting a united front. 

        Auburn won the game that day, but it wasn’t about the game for Jade.  It wasn’t about the win.  It was about the people he met and how he saw them interacting with each other with such friendliness and genuine happiness. Jade says that level of interaction is what was so culturally different for him and what he craved.

        At home, he says, people are on “go” all the time.  Here, he notices a slower in-the-moment pace and that Auburn people truly relate to one another.  Jade says, “The people in Auburn just care so much. They truly care about each other. You can’t truly appreciate it until you experience it. I had heard Auburn was a great place to be, that everyone is super happy and that they have the happiest students in the country.  Of course, in the back of my mind, I assumed that there’s probably a little hyperbole in there. But no, you get here, and everything is legitimate. People here are just more relational. They’ll hold the door open for you, say hi and smile, whereas in New Jersey, if the person holds the door for you for half a moment, that was what they would genuinely consider an act of kindness because they are always in a rush, thinking about the next five things ahead of them in their day.” The northeast is a fabulous place, the south is too, but the pace is different.  Jade recognized that difference immediately and being a relationship-oriented person, he fully embraced it.

        “I grew up in a very nice part of New Jersey geographically and definitely in a bubble.  I don’t think a lot of people realize they’re in a bubble until they get out of it. My high school had a very good connection with Villanova and looking back on it, I am emotionally intelligent enough to understand I picked Villanova because of the name and where my friends were going.  I didn’t really consider how that choice would prepare me for life after college and my career aspirations. I was more concerned with going to a school where lots of people would know who I am.” Like many high school students, Jade chose to go with the familiar, where he would be with friends and celebrated as a student athlete. Now he had grown, and it was time to make a more mature decision about what’s next.

        Overcoming Obstacles

        Jade had fallen in love with Auburn and was sold, but he first had to overcome the academic setbacks he experienced because of his swimming injury.  He made a plan.  He worked hard academically, and he emailed the head of transfer admissions at Auburn every week. To his amazement, she always answered.

        Eventually, Jade overcame those early setbacks and earned his spot at Auburn, arriving on the Plains last year. He will earn his degree in Marketing from Harbert this spring.  But his path has taken him so much further than the typical college student already.  He is an overcomer – overcoming injury and academic setbacks, he persisted until he persevered. 

        That is what Auburn stands for, we encourage and pride ourselves on hard work.  Jade is a hard worker.  In fact, he’s already working in the marketing field for a northeast based social media company he interned with as part of his Harbert curriculum. He loves what he’s doing and has a particular interest in the opportunities unfolding on the new name, image and likeness front for student athletes.  As a result of what he’s learned through the Harbert College of Business, his internship, and the support he’s received from his alumni mentor and the Harbert Connects mentorship program, Jade feels prepared for graduation and his transition to full time employment.

        While business can be academic and formal, it is the personal relationships that oftentimes create the trust required to close deals.  The Harbert College environment has provided Jade a wonderful opportunity to make friends on campus and future contacts from all over the country as well.  He’s not involved in Greek Life, but at Auburn, that’s ok.  There are so many ways to connect.  Jade is actively involved in his classes, Club Swim, and the American Marketing Association.  He has made lifelong friendships with other students - some from the South and others from places like Wisconsin and Illinois.  He has a wonderful relationship with his mentor and has become close with the people in his study groups.  Importantly, he appreciates how his professors have received him any time an issue arose.

        The Auburn Experience

        Feeling at home and accepted in a culturally different environment is incredibly important to the college experience. At its core, many people believe that the college experience is about the education, but let’s be honest, it’s also about the future job search, and employers are looking for the total package.  Stepping out of your comfort zone can pay big dividends.

        When Jade graduates in May he’ll likely head back to a major city. New York City is in his sights, to begin his career, but he’ll take the Auburn experience with him. 

        So how did Auburn get Jade Rice out of the Northeast?

        In short, it was the people, the culture, the environment.  Jade took a leap of faith, put in the work and found his fit here.  An elite athlete who left the pool behind for an elite academic experience with a few athletic events thrown in for good measure, Jade found his place and his home at Auburn. 

        What did Jade find he most loved about Auburn?

        He found outstanding academic programs, a national alumni network equipped and willing to assist in the job market, a campus life experience where he felt socially active, accepted and included, a friendly community with passionate people just south of a major metropolitan city and a little “Southern Charm.”  All these things have given Jade the opportunity to develop himself as not just academically, but as a whole, well-rounded person.

        What will Jade’s edge be over other elite business school graduates because of his experience at Harbert College of Business?

        He’ll relate to people differently and more effectively having stepped out of his comfort zone experiencing life in another area of the country. He’ll be more worldly, more interesting. There is so much to be learned outside the classroom, and through his time at Auburn he’s received not only the academic foundation but also the community relationships to enhance his learning experience. 

        And importantly, he’ll receive assistance from Auburn University alumni in the marketplace.  Jade has already found that Auburn Alumni “pay it forward” and that they help the young alumni find their way as they begin their careers.  As Jade said,

        “At Auburn we care about people, especially Auburn people and we take care of each other like family.”