Jerome Fulton

Overcoming painful past allows accounting student a bright future

Jerome Fulton interned at GE Capital, the financial services unit of General Electric, this past summer. He worked at the company’s headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, reviewing multi-million dollar transactions to ensure those deals complied with GE’s pricing procedures.

It was an internship most college students dream about—an opportunity to work in a division of the No. 9 company on the 2014 Fortune 500 list. Fulton, a senior accounting major who graduates at 7 p.m. tonight at UF’s Commencement Ceremony at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, took it all in stride.

“I don’t get fascinated with money or big corporations,” Fulton said. “They’re regular people too. It was a job. That’s how I saw it.”

Fulton isn’t being dismissive about his internship. It’s just the steely perspective that comes with overcoming incredible odds and heartbreaking grief.

Fulton lost both his parents to violence by the age of 5. He lived with various relatives for the next 12 years residing in Miami, South Carolina and Atlanta. Losing his parents at such a young age took an obvious and detrimental toll on Fulton.

“I grew up with a lot of anger,” Fulton said. “I felt out of place and not like everyone else. I felt like no one in the world could understand my experience or feel what I was feeling.”

Fulton said he had behavioral problems in elementary school. They weren’t severe, but his anger and resentment would get the best of him sometimes.

“I went to that school from pre-K[indergarten] to sixth grade, but a lot of my teachers didn’t know what I’d been through,” Fulton said. “I had a rough patch there, and things at home were not always the best.”

Fulton had a decision to make: Continue on an unhealthy path or make a life-altering change. He chose the latter.

“I realized my attitude would be a hindrance to my success,” Fulton said. “You have to put all that baggage away and do what you have to do. From that point on, I realized I didn’t want to be like everyone else around me. No one in my family has a high school education—let alone a college education. I have to do better.”

He certainly has. Fulton, who has a 3.76 GPA, has made the Dean’s List six times in his UF career. He was named an Anderson Scholar for maintaining at least a 3.9 GPA for two consecutive years, a Reitz Scholar recognizing exemplary academic, leadership and service, and recently was inducted into the UF Hall of Fame, one of the most prestigious student honors the university awards.

But what is most impressive about Fulton has been his service to the community and UF. Fulton has served as a Mentor for the Heavener School of Business’ Florida Leadership Academy (FLA) and the Business Undergraduate Mentorship Program (BUMP). He’s served as Community Service Director and Vice President of Finance for the Minority Business Society, and has participated in numerous university activities, including organizations dedicated to helping abused children and cancer patients. Fulton’s dedication to service was recognized with the Heavener School’s Distinction in Student Leadership and Service.

“I have a responsibility to make a difference in my community because people made differences in my life,” Fulton said.

Fulton said tonight’s commencement will be bittersweet. Receiving his accounting degree will be one of his proudest moments, but he won’t be able to share that moment with his parents. Still, considering what he’s been through and where his life could have gone, Fulton’s achievement is inspiring.

“Personally, I love to see the underdogs come out on top,” Fulton said. “That’s what makes me happy.”


• Jerome said his membership with FLA was his most meaningful activity at the College: “It encouraged and motivated me because you’re surrounded by kids that are doing amazing things like case competitions, starting student organizations, interning with Fortune 500 companies. It lit a fire under me.”

• Jerome cites Heavener’s Associate Director Horace Tucker, Heavener Academic Advisor & Career Coach Renee Clark and Heavener alumnae Kimone Ferguson and Aynesse Geffrard as influential mentors during his UF career.

• Jerome begins an internship with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Charlotte, N.C., this summer. In the fall, he will begin his Master of Accounting degree at the University of Southern California’s Leventhal School of Accounting.