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Alumni Spotlight: Jade Mathis

Before #BlackExcellence became a trending hashtag across social media platforms nearly a decade ago, Jade Mathis had already witnessed it growing up in Detroit and attending DPSCD schools. While her father, Judge Greg Mathis was launching his nationally syndicated court tv show and becoming a global household name in 1999, Jade was a teenager starting Crockett Technical Vocational High School on the city’s east side.

How seeing “Black Excellence” daily at Crockett prepared Jade for life as an Attorney & Entrepreneur and Mental Health Advocate living on the East Coast.

“The culture at DPSCD absolutely prepared me because I was around #BlackExcellence daily at Crockett and living in Detroit. I loved the pride that came from attending our sporting events around the city. I also enjoyed seeing the comradery among our teachers. I always felt like our teachers and administrators really cared about us as students. Living here on the East Coast now, where there is a huge population of #HBCU graduates and being within minutes from Howard University b.k.a “The Mecca”, I see that same sense of pride in many of their alumni who are either my friends, professional colleagues and/or from places similar to home. In Detroit, we all grew up seeing #BlackExcellence daily so we already knew that we were capable to also do great things in life.”


Why Did Jade Choose A Vocational High School?

A few years after graduating from high school and moving away to attend college, Jade was diagnosed with having a Math & Learning disorder and ADHD. After some careful consideration, Jade decided to move back home to enroll in a local university where she would complete her Bachelor’s degree. She did not let it defeat her and reflected on how attending Crockett and the seeds an English teacher there planted would blossom into a new career path for her.

“ I was very creative and my mom wanted to tap into that. I was always all over the place but very much into photography. I was also very military-minded and driven. At the time, Crockett had a great JROTC program and one of the best vocational programs in the city for photography, so I went there because they had options suited for me. While there, I had an English teacher who pointed out to me that I was a gifted writer and very good in my English class. I would have never known that about myself and those two affirmations from him turned out to serve me well years later while studying and obtaining my Law degree. This was of course before my ADHD diagnosis some years later but attending Crockett was such a safe space for me to discover myself and the best environment for me to excel academically & vocationally.


How Jade’s DPSCD Education Helped Save & Change Lives (Literally). 

“I really admire that DPSCD had vocational training schools like Crockett to give students like myself an advantage with our specialized programs of study. After finishing my law degree and moving to the East Coast area to practice law, I spent seven years as a non-traditional prosecutor in Prince George's County, MD. One of the initiatives that I helped launch was a diversion program as an alternative to incarceration. I noticed a lot of defendants who were in front of me seeking legal help at times reminded me of the young black men I went to school with and grew up with back home in Detroit. Instead of incarcerating them, I suggested we send them to get a trade in areas like welding, hospitality, IT or carpentry. I thought it was so essential to show that everybody is not an academic and that’s okay. I wanted to show the benefits of having a trade and a skillset outside of the classroom to be successful. Attending Crockett  myself showed me that and helped me expose others to the benefits of vocational training even in the court of law. ”

It is safe to say that Jade having the option to attend a school like Crockett Technical Vocational High School was not only a lifesaver for herself but for the hundreds of young adults who walked into the courtroom entrusting their livelihood in her hands. Since switching gears from being a non-traditional prosecutor, Jade Mathis is now a full-time public speaker and Mental Health Influencer who travels the country speaking to change the way the world views mental health. Dubbed the “Expungement Guru”, she now serves as an influencer and criminal justice reform proponent providing organizations with information and strategies to foster rehabilitation and reform while still finding time to to take on Civil Rights cases as an attorney at the A. Clarke Law Group in Washington, DC.