Profile picture and text: 50 FOR 50 STORIES: Story #44: SaweetieStory #44: Saweetie

As most of you know, Diamonte’ Harper, also known as Saweetie, is one of the biggest female rappers working today. But before she was a famous recording artist, she was actually a tutor at JEP.

A 2016 graduate from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism as well as the Marshall School of Business, much of the learning Saweetie did during her college career was inside of the JEP House.

For her JEP assignment, Saweetie taught a physiology class to fifth grade students where she taught them the basics of anatomy and healthy living. Her interactions with her students is something she remembers to this day.

“I always loved being around little kids and helping them grow their insight through educating them and teaching them within the JEP classes.” she said. “Little kids have this thing about them where they’re not shy to be themselves. So I loved working with the little souls that semester.”

Saweetie’s experiences with her students brought her back to her days as an elementary school student. As a kid, she always looked forward to older kids coming to her class through her school’s buddy system. By joining JEP, she was able to bring that same exciting experience to children just like her.

“The students who I worked with reminded me of little versions of myself, and I think that it was  lovely that a prestigious, respected school like USC, and the program within it, which is JEP, is going back and giving back to the kids who we once were.” said Saweetie.

Above all, Saweetie says JEP taught her the importance of community involvement and giving back to the surrounding areas. As much as her students were learning from her, Saweetie acknowledges that she learned just as much, or even more, from her students.

“They were teaching me about embracing the innocence I once had, or just looking out into the world, and not having those boundaries that are placed on adults as we get older,” said Saweetie. “It was refreshing to be in the presence of the younger children. I think that by giving back you also receive, so hopefully the JEP program continues to work in the surrounding communities, because while the kids are benefiting from learning from the older USC students, we’re learning from them as well.”

Saweetie’s experiences at JEP inspired her to found her very own foundation, the Icy Baby Foundation. Her foundation seeks to build the next generation of black and brown youth as diverse entrepreneurs and college-educated leaders in their communities through financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and technology training.

“I wanted to start my own foundation similar to the JEP program where we go back into the Brown and the Black community and we give back.” said Saweetie. “So one of the biggest things that we’re focused on right now is financial literacy, because those are things that we are not taught as children. So hopefully, the Icy Baby Foundation can live up to what the JEP program has done, because as a member who was once a part of the JEP program, it was just so intertwined in the community.”

When she’s not working at the Icy Baby Foundation, Saweetie loves interacting with her young fans. In fact, JEP is an integral part of why interacting with children is so important to her.

“When I meet my little girl and my little boy fans today, it does take me back to the days where I was working with the fifth grade students, and it’s always a constant reminder of taking time out of my day with the kids now. You have to give back to them, because soon they’ll grow up to be just like this.” added Saweetie.