Jahleem Montague ’19

Longwood is a place where students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zones and find their passion. This week we highlight several inspiring members of the class of 2019 as part of our #HumansOfLongwood series. The stories of their goals and achievements reflect a close-knit campus community that promotes student involvement, values inclusion and nurtures leadership—in whatever form it takes.

The best laid plans of mice and men, the poet says, often go awry. Tell that to Jahleem Montague ’19, the digital media superstar who never thought about those three words together before two years ago.

“My whole life was basketball,” he said. “That’s really the only reason I came to college in the first place—because I dreamed of making the NCAA tournament. I just wanted another ring to add to my collection from high school. So, my main goal was just being successful on the court.”

His knees had other plans—the right knee to be specific.

I learned so much from that one project—mostly what not to do—but I could just see a bigger world out there full of stories to tell. And I wanted to be the one to do it.

Jahleem Montague ’19 Tweet This

Montague had torn his right ACL twice before coming to Longwood—small tears that healed and allowed him to stay on the court where his 6’-10” frame and natural athletic ability made him a star on the rise. So, when he went down for a third time, during his first year as a Lancer, he knew what had happened.

This time, though, the tear was worse than either of the previous two. And it effectively meant the end of his days on the college court.

“I was depressed for a while,” he said. “But I was in this digital media class with Dr. Ryan Stouffer and somehow, editing just…helped. I just sort of threw myself into it and found that I had this passion for it that I didn’t know existed before.”

Very quickly, Montague’s goals changed. No longer was he spending long hours in the gym, practicing footwork and developing his mid-range jumper—he was spending long hours in editing rooms, poring over footage and telling stories through images.

“One my first projects was doing a promotional video for someone, and so I chose as my subject the basketball coach,” he said. “I learned so much from that one project—mostly what not to do—but I could just see a bigger world out there full of stories to tell. And I wanted to be the one to do it.”

Tell them he did. This year, Montague made history as the first student to sweep a category in the Communication Studies Awards—winning first, second, and third place for his digital storytelling. But even more meaningful than that was an honor of a different kind—that demonstrated just how committed Montague has become at pursuing his new goal.

“I was editing a big project and I ended up spending 24 straight hours in the suite in French Hall, just steady working,” he said. “When Professor Jeff Halliday and Broadcast Studio Managing Director Clint Wright came in, they were kind of speechless. To be honest, I thought I may have been in trouble for staying so late when the building was locked, but they told me that not many people are that committed. They put a sign up on the door to the editing room that reads Chateau de Montague, which means a lot to me.”

And now that he’s graduating with a Communication Studies degree in digital media, Montague has his eyes set on another lofty goal: editing video for the NBA. And if history has anything to say about it, he won’t let any obstacles get in his way.

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