2020 News

Return to list

Where are They Now?: Jewel White’s success, compassion an inspiration to area kids she mentors

April 24, 2020

Jewel White and her son, Kareen Abu.

While growing up in Worcester and going on to star in basketball and volleyball at Doherty High, Jewel White had some very special role models, including her Spanish teacher, Adrian Machado, Ike McBride from the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester, and, of course, her mom, Valery White.

“I had a good, strong support system,” said White, who was 4 years old when her father passed away.

Today, White, a 2012 graduate of Franklin Pierce University, where she was an All-American in basketball, is mentoring young people, as a case manager and director at Positive Directions, a drop-out prevention program based at South High, as an assistant girls’ basketball coach at Shrewsbury High, and as a mom to her 6-year-old son, Kareem Abu.

White and Kareem’s dad, Damola Abu, met when they were students at Franklin Pierce. He also played basketball for the Ravens. Kareem served as Shrewsbury’s team manager this winter.

“He loves basketball,” White said, “which is a plus for me.”

White, who is a Worcester resident, also coaches Worcester Team United AAU basketball.

White was an accomplished swimmer before she took up basketball in seventh grade. A star center, she was a 1,000-point scorer for the Highlanders, a captain and Telegram & Gazette Super Team selection in basketball and volleyball and was class treasurer her senior year.

White was the first T&G Hometeam Senior Female Athlete of the Year in 2008.

She was scheduled to be inducted to the Worcester Public Schools Hall of Fame next month. The ceremony has been moved to next May. Last year, White was inducted to the Boys & Girls Club of Worcester Hall of Fame.

White helped lead Franklin Pierce to two NCAA Division 2 Final Four appearances. She finished her outstanding career with 1,432 points and 1,013 rebounds to rank fifth and fourth, respectively, on the Ravens’ all-time lists. Earlier this year, she was named to the D2 East Hoops all-decade team for the 2010s.

White continued a cool Worcester connection at Franklin Pierce. Juanita Brown, also a former Doherty standout and Worcester Public School hall of famer, starred for the Ravens in the mid-1990s. When White was looking at colleges, Brown suggested she visit Franklin Pierce.

White, who earned her degrees in social work and sociology, has worked for the Positive Directions program, which is run through the Family Health Center of Worcester, for five years.

“I work with freshmen who are at risk of dropping out,” White said. “The program has been so successful that we were funded more money and now I can stay with them as they graduate. I take 25-30 kids, so we get really close.”

During the summer program, White takes kids on college tours. Last year, they visited Franklin Pierce.

“I was so happy to be able to bring them there,” she said. “They were able to see where I went; a city girl ended up at this school in the middle of nowhere. We have basketball players in there, too, so it’s a big mix of kids.”

As a thoughtful, compassionate, caring and intelligent woman, White is a wonderful source for the kids she guides.

“I love it,” she said. “My message to them is ‘never give up.’ So many of them are going through so much at home. School is the last thing on their minds or they don’t have that constant role model and positive figure. It’s just being there for them, being real with them, being consistent.

“They know they can call me. Even during this (coronavirus pandemic), I’m still in touch with all of them, making sure they’re all set.”

White played for Jim Reynolds at Doherty and Steve Hancock at Franklin Pierce. Before Shrewsbury, White assisted at her alma mater for two years.

This season, she had the pleasure of coaching Shrewsbury star center Jalycianna Horton, a T&G Super Team selection who will play at Westfield State next year.

“It was fun teaching her, helping her on her post moves and letting her know what to expect in college,” White said. “You go from being a top player to starting all over again in college. In college, there’s a whole other level to the game. That was awesome to coach her this year.”

Jennifer Toland

Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Facebook Twitter DZone It! Digg It! StumbleUpon Technorati Del.icio.us NewsVine Reddit Blinklist Add diigo bookmark