Author Charles A. Smith Jr. ’11 (international economics and commerce) will visit Lafayette College Sept. 14 to discuss his new book, The iMpathiSt, a self-help autobiography, and share what he has learned in his life’s journey. 

During a recent interview, Smith, who will speak at 4:45 p.m. in Limburg Theater in Farinon Student Center, said his book speaks about the time from his birth and experiences growing up in the housing projects of southeast Washington, D.C., to when he received his master’s degree from University of San Francisco. 

“It’s a whirlwind of emotion and a whirlwind of changes,” he says. “We all have to adjust for the road less traveled, if you will. But there is a path. And I speak about that.”

Smith, whose stage name is Jamaigaman (Ja-may-guh-man), also describes the adjustment it took to settle in California, thousands of miles from home.

Charles A. Smith Jr.

Charles A. Smith Jr.

“Since I was at Lafayette, I have gone through so many things that I didn’t process as my own or didn’t have insights,” he says. “I was 10 or 15 years out of school. And I had taken this road less traveled to California. And at this time, I was in the Bay Area. And you still have to figure your life out, you still have to figure out who you want to be with. At that time, there was really no definition. “I was trying to build a life with myself. That’s what I was doing,” he adds.But I knew that I wanted to incorporate myself, too.”

During his talk, Smith, who played basketball at Lafayette, plans to share with first-year students some key advice from his book, particularly encouragement to be their own person.

“They will be stepping on a campus for the first time,” he says. “Don’t partake in things that may not be about who you really are. What matters most is who you want to be, how you’re going to be. It will allow you to make better decisions in this four-year window.”

Smith says college packs a lifetime of experiences into a short period of time. Once that window is closed, the decision made over those four years can often shape the trajectory of the rest of a person’s life.

“If you’re going the engineering route, for example, you need to walk on campus understanding what it takes,” Smith says. “You’re not going to be out on campus, you’re going to be in the lab. And if that’s what you want from your life, you need to understand how that will affect your social circle.

“I want people to find themselves in environments that make them happy,” he adds. “It’s important to feel like you belong to a particular environment, to a particular family, and associate with things you may be interested in. That is why I stress the importance of bringing worlds together.”

Smith is looking forward to his Lafayette homecoming and showing his life partner around campus and the Easton community.

“I didn’t have a safety net, and Lafayette was a safe space, a place where I was challenged and grew,” he says. “I just want to touch the library again and touch the court, to really have that full circle moment, and to share my journey with students. I’m thankful for this opportunity.”


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