Florida A&M University alumnus T.J. Rose highlighted his Tallahassee roots, his journey to Harvard University and his career in private equity financing as he exhorted fall 2021 graduates to have the means and mindset to succeed.
“There is something about stepping on the sidewalk and sitting in the classrooms of your forefathers that feels good,” said Rose, who described himself as being “authentically from Tallahassee.” He followed his parents, older brother, uncles, aunts, and cousins to FAMU, where he earned a degree in civil engineering on the way to what he initially thought would be a career in commercial construction. “There’s something about walking in your family’s legacy that nothing can match. FAMU speaks and continues to speak for my whole self,” he said.
During his early career, Rose was an engagement manager at McKinsey & Company in Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa. He joined Abry Partners in 2011 and has built extensive proficiency in the health care sector. He has nearly 20 years of experience in private equity, having previously held positions at Goldman Sachs Principal Investment Area and the Audax Group, a $9 billion private equity firm.
Rose sits on the board of several companies within the Abry Partners portfolio, including Aduro, Benefit Recovery Group, DialysisIQ, Dr. Dental, and HealthEZ.
In addition to these company boards, Rose also serves on various community boards, including vice chairman of The Boston Foundation, a $1.3 billion community foundation giving away $150+million per year in charitable grants; Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Board of Trustees, a $6 billion multi-city hospital system; and the FAMU Foundation Board of Trustees.
Rose outlined his career path as a way of providing graduates a blueprint for their own success.
“I am not unique. I am not the only one. I am not special,” he told graduates. “I simply built on the foundation using the means I was given to chart my path forward.”
Success requires the right mindset, Rose warned.
“Having the means to thrive is not enough,” he added later. “Unfortunately, this world won’t always be rooting for you. Some colleagues will tear you down. Be prepared to thrive and succeed anyway.
“You must make a decision to develop the mindset of being different,” Rose continued. “You are prepared to succeed. Walk with confidence.”
A highlight of the Friday night ceremony was the conferring of an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree on Tallahassee civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. A nationally recognized advocate for social justice, Crump earned his law degree from Florida State University in 1995. He is the former longtime law partner of FAMU alum Daryl Parks, who was among those Crump thanked for helping him understand his mission to be an “unapologetic defender of Black life, Black liberty and Black humanity.”
“Every day I will continue to speak up for the future of our children and our young people, to stand up for the future of our children and our young people,” Crump said. “You are the best we have to offer the world for the future.”
Friday’s ceremony included graduates from the University’s 14 colleges and schools.
President Robinson recognized parents, Sylvonta and LaShanda Johnson, who had four daughters graduate from FAMU.
Sharielle Johnson was a spring 2014 graduate; Shontielle Johnson earned degrees in spring 2018 and fall 2019; Brittany Johnson is a spring 2021graduate, while Whitney Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education K-6 on Friday.
Robinson presented the couple with the President’s Award “for the inspiration and motivation you gave your children in their quest for educational achievement.”