Jamar Jerrell is a 2007 graduate of Nansemond River High School in Suffolk, majoring in finance with a minor in real estate and accounting. He is the President of ODU’s Real Estate Club and the ODU chapter of National Association for Black Accountants. He is planning to graduate in spring 2024

Jamar Jerrell

What brought you to Old Dominion University’s Strome College of Business?
I joined the Marine Corps right after high school, and after that, I decided to come back home (to Hampton Roads). … I jumped into real estate, and then COVID hit, and my business was impacted. So, I wanted to take steps to move my career forward.

I was always interested in Old Dominion because I knew how strong the alumni community was. I also knew that I would get a great education here. This is one of the best schools in Virginia, and I wanted to challenge myself to tap into that knowledge.

What interested you in real estate?
It came from me looking at big buildings and understanding the business aspect of it. I would always look at apartment buildings and say, “All of these people are paying this amount of money, and someone owns this.”

Jumping into real estate was that big hurdle that I felt like I needed in my life at that time. I knew it was going to be challenging. I’m not naturally a salesperson. But me making that leap, making that jump, made me believe in myself. In a little over two years of being in real estate, I sold over 20 homes.

What have you learned about finance and real estate through the Strome College of Business?
The prerequisite to learning about real estate was through my econ class. Professor (Feng) Lian and Dr. (Barbara) Blake taught me micro- and macroeconomics – about how that ecosystem works. And once I got that understanding, it was actually easy to understand real estate.

Additionally, the real estate program taught me a lot. Simon Stevenson (Director of the E.V. Williams Center for Real Estate) has global experience in real estate. Professor (Larry) Collarito has been in the appraisal industry for over 20 years. Getting my real estate experience from (the Strome College of Business) made me realize that there’s a lot to learn.

The best value that I got out of the real estate program was being able to connect to real estate professionals in the area who graduated from ODU who are vice presidents and CEOs of their companies. … Everything is so tightly knit in the real estate community, and once you know a few people, and they know you’re a good person, you’re pretty well-connected throughout the entire industry.

After graduation, what are your next steps?
I’ll be working at Capital Group in Norfolk. I’m staying local. I see the value of staying local. This summer I was interning with KPMG … and I learned a lot more about Norfolk that I didn’t know before. Originally, I was planning on relocating to Charlotte, Raleigh or (Washington) D.C., but the Capital Group is a great choice and I still get to learn and grow while leveraging the connections I’ve already made. I’ve been rooted in this area since I was very, very young. I have some strong ties to Suffolk, and now I have strong ties to Norfolk, and I live in Chesapeake.

What advice do you have to someone who is hoping to pursue a career in business?

The best advice to someone is to figure out what you’re looking for. Once you figure out what your end goal is, you can take steps to reach it. Once you figure out that something, you’re not going to 100 percent know it. Don’t be afraid to take that next step. If you believe in yourself, and you know you’re going to work hard, it’s going to pay off.

What are, ultimately, your career goals?
I want to become a portfolio manager. And my second goal is to build a business on the side in real estate. I want to help families that may not have it all. I want to develop some type of portfolio where I cater to affordable housing. I want to give back. My whole thing about coming to school at Old Dominion is I wanted to be an inspiration, because I didn’t grow up with the best situation. My whole life process has been about growth, making the right decisions, doing the right thing and following your heart.