Cornell Garnett '06

- Student; On Campus

Cornell Garnett
I'm introduced to new ways of thinking . . .

School of CED student Cornell Garnett was a self-described “problem child” while growing up in violent, poverty-stricken Camden, N.J. He was kicked out of school and eventually ended up in jail. 

 A combination of curiosity and happenstance saved him from a life of incarceration. 

“I used to hear my mother’s anger every day about problems – some was personal and some was just the norms of the inner-city environment,” he says. “Why was everybody in a similar situation? Who or what was making life so hard for poor people? That curiosity eventually drew me to the School of CED.”

During a trip to see his parole officer, Cornell ran into a teacher who had inspired him years before. The teacher introduced him to the idea of youth-run businesses and the Genesis School of Business, where he volunteers.

He credits the school’s entrepreneurial youth program with giving him a second chance; he started an office supply store and in 1998 was named the school’s Entrepreneur of the Year. It was there that he heard of Southern New Hampshire University’s community economic development master’s program.

“What I’m getting out of the program is the skills to develop a sound proposal and how to acquire resources,” he says. “I’m introduced to new ways of thinking, how to relate or work in diverse communities and building relationship with people all over the world.”

Cornell’s project and plan for the future is to find ways to curb growing recidivism among youth ex-offenders in Camden by helping them create and operate businesses.

“I want to do what God sent me here to do,” he says. “That’s where I see the School of CED leading me, and that’s to change what I see happening with inner-city youth, not just in Camden, but around the world.”

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