Photo by Joseph V. Labolito
Solomon Jones is making a name for himself in the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts (TMFA) at Temple University and it is only the first semester of his freshman year. When he’s not in class, he is working on freelance videography gigs or tinkering with videos or photos he has taken of his friends.
“I want to be a cinematographer,” he says. “I really like the idea of the picture. I love making art through film and creating contrast, so I just want to do stuff like that. My career and my life goals are just to be a creative.”
Before starting as a film and media arts major, Jones became acclimated to Temple through his mother, an alumna of TFMA and during his time in the B4USoar program. Housed and sponsored by the Fox School, B4USoar offers juniors and seniors from Philadelphia’s public and charter high schools the ability to attend college classes, free of charge.
Jones was a student at Carver High School for Engineering and Science when his mom urged him to take advantage of opportunities like dual-degree programs. When he discovered B4USoar, he understood the value of the program for him: complete credits to lighten his future college course schedule to concentrate on his major.
Prior to being accepted into the B4USoar program, all applicants interview with Hilda Bacon, the B4USoar program manager. Bacon also connects with administrators, teachers and guidance counselors at more than a dozen area schools to get students interested in applying.
“When we met, I just thought to myself, ‘this is a totally cool guy,’” says Bacon. “He is exactly what we are talking about when we explain the benefits of our program. He’s a great ambassador and advocate for B4USoar.”
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito
With opportunities to build confidence in college settings through classes alongside college students, peer mentors, group workshops and Student Professional Organization (SPO) fairs, students can get real-life experience surrounding their future careers.
“Once we started doing B4USoar in-person, it was really easy to connect with people and talk and meet with professors and interact with college students to get a feel for Temple,” he says.
Taking classes through the Fox School was also interesting to him, as an understanding of entrepreneurship and marketing can be essential in any industry. But those skills can be especially beneficial in videography where freelancing and marketing oneself can be commonplace. He decided to take the strategic management course Creativity and Organizational Innovation, taught by Michelle Histand, managing director of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI).
“Over the summer I did some freelance videography and photography and I used some of the marketing strategies that I learned in class, things like how to build my audience and how to get people engaged,” Jones says.
He has worked with nonprofit organizations in freelancing and volunteering behind the camera and has also taught students how to use tools like Photoshop and video editing software.
“The entrepreneurship tools he learned were exactly the type of thing he already experienced this summer [freelancing] and how important those skills are to anything you want to do,” says Bacon.
Though he is just beginning his career at TFMA, the lessons he is learning, and the connections Jones has made, are setting him up for future career success.
“One thing my dad taught me was to have your name be the first when someone thinks of who they want for a project. For them to think ‘I want Solomon for this, I want Solomon to film this for me.’ That’s important to me. That’s what my long-term goal is.”