Jean Homere ’93 (ENG) has degrees in engineering, law, and business. He’s a member of the D.C. Bar and the U.S. Court of Appeals. And, he serves as a patent judge in the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
But if you ask him to describe himself, he’ll say “average.”
When you consider his educational and professional achievements, average isn’t the first word that comes to mind. However, Jean believes his successes were a product of discipline and diligence—not an innate genius. This message is essential when he talks to students. He wants them to know that if he can do it, they can do it.
After graduating from high school in Haiti, Jean moved to Stamford to live with his mother and siblings and continue his education. He earned his associate’s degree in electrical engineering from Norwalk Community College and contemplated UConn as a next step, but relatively few of his friends were headed to Storrs. “We viewed UConn as this shining thing up there—out of reach,” he says.
Fortunately, Jean had the chance to meet with UConn students who had transferred from Norwalk Community College. They painted a positive picture and offered to give him a campus tour. From that tour, he remembers the “green, farm feel” of the campus and the welcoming people he met. They “wowed” him. “You come here and everyone you come into contact within the community has something to do with UConn,” he says.
Recently, Jean returned to Storrs to share his experiences with students in UConn’s ScHOLAR2S House Learning Community. The ScHOLAR2S House is designed to support the scholastic efforts of male students who identify as African American. “As a former member of UConn’s minority engineering program, I’ve always known the University was conscious about diversity,” he said.
Jean’s high school-aged son, David, is now considering following in his father’s footsteps and recently had an in-person visit with the ScHOLAR2S House learning community as well. David says that the visit put UConn even higher on his list. “It just opened my eyes, being around mostly black students who shared the same values and goals. It gave me a sense of community. I believe I’d go a lot further in the ScHOLAR2S House than if I go it alone.”
Jean agrees. “It was magic when we got there,” he says. “I looked around and saw all those young men, and it reminded me of myself when I was a young man. It was how they were being groomed. This program creates an ideal environment for them. People need to see people like themselves. This program speaks volumes for UConn.”
THE POWER OF CONNECTING
After he arrived at UConn, Jean felt a sense of rebirth. “I was enthused to be surrounded by so many experts in their field,” he says, with a radiant smile. “They were approachable and willing to take the time to help you out.”
Dr. Charles Knapp, ’53 (ENG), ’62 Ph.D., who recently passed away, was one of the professors Jean bonded with as a student:
“One summer, I was looking for an opportunity to do an independent study. I approached Dr. Knapp, who had recently retired, to ask him for a recommendation for this class. Even though he was retired, he agreed to teach this independent study for me. He did that out of the kindness of his heart.”
Jean also recalls his friendship with his civil engineering professor, Norman Garrick. He described how much he enjoyed playing soccer games with him. Jean encourages students to reach out to their professors. “If you reach out, most professors will take the time to help you and share their knowledge.”
Along with the valuable relationships he built, Jean explored the campus community to ensure he took advantage of opportunities that could expand and enhance his educational experience. Even though he was an engineering student, he worked for three years in the archeology department and developed friendships in the Department of Literature, Cultures, and Languages. As someone who spoke French and Spanish, he spent time in the international dorm and enjoyed conversations with people from all over the world. “When it was time for me to graduate, I think I was ready.”
With the ideal combination of academic rigor and accessible faculty, UConn offered Jean—a gregarious, intellectually curious student—a strong foundation to build a career culminating in the esteemed role of a patent judge.