ADA – As the coronavirus continues to scramble lives, one student-athlete is going to great lengths to achieve his personal goals – and East Central University is ensuring that he succeeds.
“Personally, I never thought the world would see a time where you can’t go into the store to buy hand sanitizer or toilet tissue,” said Jalan Brown, ECU senior. “It’s unfortunate, but we need to take this seriously. If we work together, we can get everything back to normal.”
Brown, of Saint Paul, Minnesota, is definitely putting in his share of the work. He’s on track to graduate with a degree in Kinesiology next month. He was also a key player on the ECU Tiger basketball team, whose season ended at the conference tournament just days before the pandemic started to make its presence felt.
Brown was able to finish out his college basketball career, but like all ECU students his daily academic routine has been upended by the coronavirus. For Brown and other seniors, it couldn’t have arrived at a more inconvenient time – just months before earning a prized degree.
As the pandemic started to spread in early March, ECU extended Spring Break an extra week for students. Brown returned home to Saint Paul during the break, celebrating his 22nd birthday with his family. He had planned on staying there to finish his final semester online, but again the coronavirus reared its ugly head. While he was home, the state of Minnesota – acting days before Oklahoma would – issued a stay-at-home order, which basically closed down the entire city.
“They shut everything down in Saint Paul, so I couldn’t go to a library or a school to access a computer to get my work done,” Brown said. “Nobody in my household had one at the time, and with the coronavirus going around people aren’t as willing to share.”
Suddenly feeling stuck in Saint Paul without the tools he needed and determined to overcome it, he drove the 800-plus miles back to Ada. He knew that ECU’s Linscheid Library would allow him to check out a laptop computer so he could finish the semester and earn his degree on time.
It wasn’t the first time ECU helped him achieve his personal goals.
“I came to ECU on a visit before I verbally committed to Texas Southern, but I soon realized I wasn’t going to go there when the coaching staff left for jobs elsewhere,” said Brown about his basketball recruiting experience. “At that point, I started calling other schools that had recruited me. Most of them already had their rosters set, but ECU was willing to give me a scholarship on late notice and accept me as a brother from the start.”
Since joining the Tiger family, Brown has performed exceptionally well – and not just on the basketball court. He has also excelled in the classroom, adding his name to the Dean’s List.
“J.B. has grown and matured greatly over the course of his two years here at ECU,” said Ja Havens, men’s head basketball coach. “I’m proud of him for his achievements and appreciate the way he has represented the University and our basketball program, and I believe he will continue to be an ambassador for both.”
Brown’s hard work, grit and determination have impressed outside the gymnasium as well.
“Jalan is an incredible team player who has developed a calm, professional presence that will serve him well in his future,” said Katricia Pierson, ECU president. “We’re always happy to help our students achieve their goals, and during this pandemic we’re going to continue to find ways to make that happen.”
Brown is back in Ada, in a rental house off campus, practicing social distancing and focusing on finishing his last semester of studies at ECU. His future plans include playing professional basketball overseas and becoming a personal trainer to help others reach their fitness goals.
“ECU has impacted me tremendously and helped shape me into the man I am today,” Brown said. “What I will miss most about ECU is the opportunity to excel on and off the court, of being a figure in the community that young kids can look up to. Just being here for these two years has been such a tremendous blessing.”