By Akeem Greene
From rags to riches.
It is a common theme some millennials use to aptly describe a transformation in their financial status in society.
For Jermine ‘Adept’ Hodge, his riches are not in finances- well, just not yet- but in the value of hard work and apprenticeship, which have resulted in life-changing circumstances.
The 28-year-old Guyanese takes homage to a statement: “The only thing that comes to a sleeping man is dreams.”
Hodge certainly burned the proverbial midnight oil, and in doing so graduated with a Masters in Branding and Integrated Communications from the City College of New York.
He got a record-breaking nine out of nine in his Portfolio Defence, which was the first-ever for a creative in the Masters’ programme at the City College.
This Portfolio was judged by Advertising Industry professionals on June 1.
Hodge is a homegrown talent, who flourished after migrating to the United States of America in 2009 where he continued High School after leaving North Ruimveldt Multilateral, then started University at Medgar Evers College.
“To be honest, back in Guyana I had no idea of what I wanted to do with my life academically. I somewhat went with the flow of what’s expected, to stay in school. I always knew some form of Art was my forte because I always gravitated to Art. But as most of us know, that’s not something teachers, peers or your parents emphasise,” Hodge expressed in a recent interview with The News Room.
“They don’t see it as something someone could make a career off, so for that reason, I went with the flow, struggled academically because I wasn’t doing what I love or what was my strength. Just another teen trying to fit into a box society shaped.”
At Medgar Evers College, Hodge earned an Associate Degree in Business Administration, Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Information System, three Deans List award for excellent academic achievement, and a full-time Position as a Multimedia Coordinator.
Making the adjustment
Hodge, who is the youngest of nine siblings, left Guyana as a 16-year-old after his mother ensured he joined the rest of the family in the United States.
“Financially, I wouldn’t say I had it all. (Was) a struggle being the youngest out of nine, so you know I couldn’t have it all. But I didn’t let that affect me, seeing my parents make sacrifices made me contented and eager to get older to make them proud and return that favour.”
“My mother always taught me not to use the word poor; no one is poor once you have life, we just lack the necessity that would make our life easier.”
According to the ambition-driven lad, the transition to the developed world of the United States was hard since his parents migrated when they were already adults and he had to find his way on his own.
“I had no one to show me how to get around high school life, so I had to learn fast. Nevertheless, I always had a hustle mentality, and I learned fast because I had no other choice. I knew when to switch up my accent so peers and professors could understand what I was saying; I forced myself to learn all the academic terms and history of the US. Why? because I had no other choice, this was my new home and if I wanted to move ahead in life, I might as well hustle my way to the top using all the resources around me.”
“My cousin gave me an IBM laptop when I moved to the US, that’s where the curiosity started. I downloaded software to design, building websites, hacking Wi-Fi around me, and much more. I was like a kid with unlimited curiosity. But it all boiled down to being a creator – because I enjoyed the process behind the thinking and blowing people away with my results.”
He added, “I entered Robotics College courses while in High school, people thought I was crazy. A 12th Grader taking College Courses about Robotics, but it was a free opportunity, so I went for it. I graduated High School with College Credits under my belt, which was a slingshot to graduate early in college.”
Hodge is the founder of 6Vibes, an online Broadcasting and Media Production Company, which started in the comfort of his living room and was influenced by Marlon Jacobs, popularly known as ‘Freedom Boss’.
“He [Marlon Jacobs] said it’s a dope idea and I created 6 Vibes websites, apps, and all the technical connections needed to start an online radio station in about two weeks. 6Vibes started as an online radio station to give Guyanese a voice.”
However, due to responsibilities in college, Hodge had to hand the responsibilities of the company over to best friend, Kareem Thomas, as a co-founder and the radio became a popular space for local entertainment.
“6Vibes Radio no longer functions but the entertainment, marketing, and graphic aspect still exist. It’s more than a business, it’s a brand and lifestyle that represents the six races that make up Guyana.”
Improving Guyana’s entertainment image
While progressing in the ‘Big Apple’, Hodge still has a passion to see Guyana development, particularly the entertainment sector, and noted for that to occur, it would mean the evolution with the times.
“The best way to gain a customer or supporter is to give them a monumental experience. We’re no longer in 2010, this is a digital era, we need to create an experience that evokes emotion and connects. There’s a lot of opportunities out there, but I believe we [Guyanese] are somewhat stuck in the traditional way of doing things, some of the best ideas and experience lives outside what people are familiar with. So, we definitely need to take risks to shake up the industry.”
He further added, “My goal someday is to return and create films that could be on platforms such as Netflix. I grew up in Buxton, a village with rich history and also a stigma due to the past. I know it would be an uncomfortable situation to cover and people might ask why highlight certain things? But we need to get out of that mentality if we want to put Guyana entertainment on another level. Another documentary I’m interested in directing is – Roger Khan Bio-Pic. The resources are there and I have the right people around me to make it happen, but I’ll give things time.”
Prompted by boredom, Hodge started his Masters and in two years, had the opportunity to create campaigns class projects for some prominent brands such Budweiser, Penguin Books, Ben and Jerry’s, New York Public Library, Discovery Channel along with others.
As of June 8, 2021, he started a new portfolio as Art Director at TBWA/Chiat/NY, which is currently among the top three advertising agencies in the country.
He will be working on the Nissan account in regards to campaigns, commercials, and solving brand problems.
Hodge hopes his story inspires others that no matter where you come from or your financial situation, you can reach anywhere with hard work.
Before The News Room ended the interview, it was imperative, we ask the avid basketball fan, who is the G.O.A.T [Greatest Of All Time], LeBron James or Michael Jordon?
“Lol, MJ all day. Lebron got a lot more to accomplish, but he’s definitely one of the greatest.”