Get to know Jeremy Calhoun, IT Project Manager, International Paper and Greater Memphis Chamber 2020 Young Memphis Honoree.
What event or accomplishment has been the most impactful for your career so far?
As a first-generation college student, the event or accomplishment that has been the most impactful for my career is landing my first internship with Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW). This opportunity was critical to my growth, confidence, and involvement in the City of Memphis. I joined MLGW in the summer of 2011 and interned in their Residential and Commercial Engineering division with my now mentor and big brother JT Malasri. JT introduced me to various programs that allowed me to become directly involved here in Memphis. Those activities included connecting me with New Memphis' (Summer Experience) to introducing me to Mayor Mark Luttrell Young Professional's Council, to serving on the Countywide Juvenile Consortium (CJJC). JT helped me realize that I could make an impact here in the City of Memphis. He also helped me convert my Summer Internship into a Co-op where I began to work full-time as a co-op for MLGW's IT division. This was made possible by JT Malasri and City Council Chairwoman Patrice Robinson (during her time at MLGW). Over the next two years, I had the opportunity to work year-round for MLGW while learning from professionals in a comfortable yet challenging environment. This environment allowed me to hone my professional and personal skills. My work with MLGW eventually created an opportunity for me to travel to Indiana for an Internship opportunity with Cummins at their Global Headquarters in Columbus, Indiana, which ultimately helped me earn four Fortune 500 offers upon graduation. I eventually chose to return to Memphis and take a role at International Paper (IP), where I've now spent the last seven years working for one of the world's best companies while also changing my family's economic earning potential. I'm forever grateful for that opportunity with MLGW.
What motivates you to be active in your community or profession?
The youth and the opportunity to empower the next Jeremy Calhoun, who has no idea what he is capable of. I tell people all the time, I’m the product of a statistic; my mom was a teenage mother, and she had me at 16 years old. My dad has 18 felonies and served time in the federal system, so statistically, I’m blessed to accomplish what God has allowed me to achieve. With my non-profit STS Enterprise Corporation, we define “At-risk” as being at risk of being mediocre and not reaching their potential. I believe that the City of Memphis has some of the most talented youth in the world. Our goal at STS Enterprise is to partner with these young people on their journey while building confidence in their ability. Ultimately our goal is to help our youth become economically and socially engaged in their community. This is what truly motivates me. I believe our city and our nation are in a state of emergency related to our youth. I believe that we can’t just take an” if I only impact one youth approach anymore because no business would be excited with just making $1. They wouldn’t be in business long, and I think we have to invest time, talent, and resources into this next generation.
What does “being a young professional in Memphis” mean to you?
In my opinion, being a young professional in Memphis means that opportunity is endless! I love the way the city embraces young talent. If you are really passionate and dedicated to a cause, the city will get behind. You can literally meet anyone in Memphis, and they will at least sit down and hear you out and, in most cases, offer to help. Where else can you do that in America? Only in MEMPHIS!!
What do you like about living in Memphis?
I love the cost of living here in Memphis because you get the best bang for your buck here. I also love the culture and pride of Memphis, that individuals have not only for their city but for their neighborhoods. When I first moved to Memphis from Jacksonville, FL, my mom and I went to a Melrose football game in the early 2000’s in Orange Mound, and it BLEW my mind! I saw a community full of pride, fellowship, and hospitality all in one night. That spirit and pride thrives through neighborhoods all across the city, from Whitehaven to Hickory Hill to Castalia in South Memphis to Binghampton! I also love the food here! In Jacksonville, seafood and crab boils are a big thing, but here in Memphis, the food is unmatched! I believe Memphis is the Wing capital of the world, and I love Crumpy’s, Wing Guru. I also love going to Red Koi, One and Only BBQ.
What advice do you have for new young professionals interested in starting or building their career in Memphis?
My advice would be to embrace the City and everything that comes with it. Memphis is full of dynamic individuals and home to some of the most innovative and talented people in the world. Also, don’t hesitate to get involved and get plugged into the non-profit community! This is a great place to network and invest in your dreams. This is a place where you can turn dreams into reality.
Who do you most admire and why?
I admire my wife, Samantha Calhoun, the most! One of the things that I'll never forget about our first unofficial date is when she told me that she "was just a girl from the hood (Binghampton) trying to Make!" This is a young lady who grew up in Binghampton here entire Life, had dreams of becoming a nurse at a very young age, and used faith to propel her forward in Life! Over the last 8 years, I've had the pleasure of watching her reach EVERY goal she's ever established by using one strategy, and that is her faith in God! She is now 28 years old and is a few months away from defending her Ph.D. dissertation in Nursing from UTHSC; she has her bachelors and master's from her dream school "The University of Memphis" and is currently teaching at the University of Memphis at the schools top program and is the Loewenberg college of nursing's youngest full-time professor. Her faith inspires me to do more!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years, I hope to be leading one of the top Non-Profits in America in STS Enterprise while becoming a serial entrepreneur with my wife Samantha and best friend, Alton. I'd also like to begin raising my family while being an excellent husband and father. I want to be a pioneer in the Memphis community for our youth and play a pivotal role in helping LeMoyne-Owen College reach its full potential.
What’s your favorite thing about being a young professional in Memphis?
My favorite thing about being a young professional in Memphis is the ability to make an impact here in the City of Memphis. I love the fact that we have many young professionals all across the city who are fighting to help Memphis reach its full potential. This excites me as a young professional and makes me want to play my part and be part of Memphis's bright future.
Interested in getting plugged in? Learn more about the Chamber's Soundcheck Young Professionals Council here.