Academic Success Advisor Looks Forward to Celebrating His Favorite Holiday, Ringing in 2022
Meet Jim Prosper, an academic success advisor in the University’s Center for Student Success, who reflects on his own educational journey, his winter hobbies, and his passion for sharing the joy of learning.
December 16, 2021
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
The lifeblood of the University of New Haven are the faculty and staff members who dedicate their lives to helping our students reach their goals. Periodically, we’ll introduce you to a member of the staff so you can learn more about them – beyond their day to day work.
Next up is Jim Prosper, an academic success advisor in the Center for Student Success, who is a singer in a gospel choir who also enjoys hip-hop and R&B.
Renee Chmiel: What was your favorite subject when you were a student? Jim Prosper: Up until high school, my favorite subject was math. I used to pay little attention in math and still earn a perfect score. History used to bore me until my 11th grade history teacher tied it in with sports and music. That is when and why I fell in love with history and when it officially became my favorite subject as a student. That same history teacher was also my basketball coach, and his first name was also Jim. He wrote me a letter of recommendation for my first internship while I was in high school. He also wrote me a letter of recommendation for college, and he was also stern with me when I did not go to class but showed up to practice after school.
What I like about history is the fact that I can paint a picture in my head of what is being told. For example, I was obviously not alive to see Babe Ruth play baseball. But the stories about him coming up to the plate, pointing to the sky to say that he is going to hit a home run, then actually doing it is something that I wish I was able to see. Or, waking up on the morning of November 3, 1948, to read a newspaper saying “Dewey defeats Truman” when it was the other way around.
History always makes me wonder if I could have actually lived during that time or if I was strong enough to survive what others were going through. How would I have handled being drafted in the military or being told that I could not eat at a restaurant because of the color of my skin?
RC: What do you like best about winter? JP: The only thing I like about the winter is the fact that I can play indoors with my kids. They are my life. My daughter Mia is 6 years old, and just like me, she loves hot chocolate. My son James Jr. loves eating baked cookies. They both love when I read to them, play hide and seek with them, or tell them a scary story. At night, I either watch basketball or football or I spend time with my fraternity brothers.
I do not really have any winter hobbies or traditions. To be honest, if it were not for my kids I would probably stay in all winter. My kids love making snow angels when it snows outside, and I used to love doing that, too. But then I have to clean their wet clothes and clean up every place in the house that they walk through, which isn’t as fun. I am not a fan of the cold weather. I am not a fan of putting on more clothes to stay warm. Give me a couch, maybe some holiday music, and definitely a basketball or football game to watch, and I can do that all winter long.
RC: What kind of music do you listen to? JP: I was born in the early 1980s, so I was able to see the rise of hip-hop, and I really got into R&B. In fact, in high school a few of my football teammates wanted to start a rap group similar to Wu Tang Clan and perform at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, NY. We had our time slots ready and we rehearsed all the time. We were supposed to perform on a Sunday, however on the Wednesday before our scheduled performance, report cards were given. All of us did poorly in one class – math – so our parents said we were not allowed to perform. We never got a chance to see ourselves on TV.
My favorite genre of music is a tie between the 90s and 2000s hip-hop and R&B. I have so many songs that I like, and I am a big fan of so many artists. To name a few: Michael Jackson (Beat It), Outkast (Elevators), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (Tha Crossroads), Busta Rhymes (Woo Hah!!), Jay-Z (Hard Knock Life), Craig David (7 Days), Jaheim (Put that Woman First), and John Legend (Tonight). I have not been to too many concerts, though.
RC: Do you celebrate Christmas or any winter holidays? JP: I do celebrate Christmas – it’s actually my favorite holiday. I also celebrate Haitian Independence Day, which is January 1. For Christmas Eve, my family and I are usually in church from 8 p.m. until well past midnight. At church there is always a play of some kind in which the majority of the kids perform.
RC: What about 2022 are you most looking forward to? JP: For 2022, I just want good health for all those around me. 2020 and 2021 were very hard for my family and me, and I just want to think positively.
RC: What do you like best about working at the University of New Haven? JP: What I like best about the University of New Haven is the opportunity to meet new students on a daily basis. I really like it when a student recognizes me from a meeting that we had and they remember it well.
Each semester I meet with more than 100 students, and sometimes I get their names mixed up. But when a student remembers me, I do my best to make sure I remember that student the next time I see them. As an educator, I take joy in learning. Every time I meet with anyone, as an adviser, an educator, or a colleague, I try my best to leave with something new. My kids are young, so I try to teach them something new every day, and that is something I like about working at University of New Haven and try to bring home to my kids.
RC: What is something people might be surprised to learn about you? JP: I think there are a few things people might be surprised to learn about me:
I was born and raised in Stamford, Conn., and I did not learn how to speak English until I was 4 years old.
I do not know how to swim.
I have not seen one episode of Game of Thrones. I have never read or watched anything that has to do with Harry Potter.
The last thing I wanted to do when I graduated from high school was to become an educator of any kind. Because of my bad handwriting, my 5th grade teacher told me I was not going to amount to anything. She told my mother I was one of the worst students she ever had. Two years later, my 7th grade teacher called my artwork the worst he had ever seen and put it on his door for the entire school to see. Five years later, I got a full scholarship to college, and my adviser told me he expects nothing but greatness from me.
The only reason why I went to college is because I had the scholarship. At the time, I did not like school, but I enjoyed making new friends. Sports and music made things a lot of fun for me. In college, I played football, ran track, and threw at least two parties a month. I was involved in so many different clubs (RSOs) and activities that I ended up having to stay an extra year.
I sing tenor/baritone in a gospel choir, and by the middle of December 2021, you all can call me an actor as I will be acting in a play produced by a high school teammate and friend of mine called “These 4 Walls.”