Student Profile: Jerome's Story

Jerome Price in the Northwest Wine Academy swirling a glass of wine.

Jerome Price, born and raised in Houston, Texas, is currently a student at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College, pursuing his associate degree in Wine Sales & Marketing and set to graduate in June 2024. As a Black man in a predominantly White industry, he plans to help transform and diversify the wine industry.
Jerome’s journey from Texas to Seattle defines his great resilience and relentless pursuit of his passions.
Growing up in Houston, TX and the nearby town of Yoakum, Jerome said he developed a survival mentality early on. He shared experiencing firsthand the harsh realities of racism. Children and adults harbored internalized biases, called him and his friends names, and harassed them in their neighborhoods.
“Where I grew up, the people I grew up with, you could drop us in the jungle, and we are going to survive,” he said, then breaking into a laugh.  “You have to laugh, it’s a result of building a very thick skin.”
Jerome said he was not focused on traditional education in his early years.  He dreamed of a career in Major League Baseball and said, “my focus was on girls and being part on the ‘in’ crowd.”
During 12th grade, Jerome made the decision to get his GED. Traditional schooling wasn’t working for him. “I am a perpetual learner,” he said, “but back then a teacher couldn’t teach me. It just didn’t work, so I learned everything from the street.”
Jerome’s journey took a significant turn when he decided to attend a bible college two years after high school. He recalled, “That college built a foundation for me, a foundation of morals and values that I still live by today. It saved my life.” This period of self-discovery and growth marked a turning point in Jerome's life, he said, instilling in him the importance of discipline and integrity.
Following his time at bible college, Jerome said he encountered a series of hardships, including periods of homelessness and personal loss. However, an encounter with a sommelier at a bar he worked for sparked his passion for wine and ignited a new direction in his life. Reflecting on the experience, Jerome shared, “He turned me into a believer- in wine.” This revelation prompted Jerome to delve deeper into the world of wine, immersing himself in self-study and practical experience.
Guided by mentors and fueled by his passion, Jerome eventually decided that formal education was essential to achieving his aspirations in the wine industry.
“I knew I needed to go to wine school,” Jerome said, recalling a declaration he made years earlier that, at the time, he didn’t see as possible. He searched the internet for wine schools and found the Northwest Wine Academy.  Arriving at South Seattle College with little money and no place to stay, Jerome remained determined to overcome every obstacle in his path.
He reflected, “I came to my first day on campus with my luggage, not knowing where I was going after or what I was going to do next.”
Jerome stayed in a homeless shelter until funding became available. “I hid my luggage here, on campus, I hid it in plain sight, it had everything and thankfully nobody ever touched it. But it didn’t matter because I was here, this was an adventure.”
He found support and guidance from his mother back home and the college community. He reflected on the support he received from Dr. Dan Johnson (now retired), Julius Lloyd (Director of Project Baldwin), Acting President Sayumi Irey, and support provided by South’s Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.
“They’ve done so much for me it’s crazy,” Jerome said of the support he’s felt from South. Through the assistance of mentors, the support of his peers, and his own outlook on life, Jerome was able to overcome adversity and thrive in his academic pursuits.
Jerome is passionate about diversifying the wine industry and creating inclusive spaces where people from all backgrounds can enjoy and appreciate wine. He envisions combining his love for soul food with a wine bar, offering a taste of home to his community and challenging stereotypes in the process.
“I think a lot of people have concerns about going into the wine field and getting 'whitewashed.’ I’m not, I am still hood. You can tell by my lingo, I represent the have nots, that’s where my love is,” Jerome said. “Maybe one day I will get to come into play, as a Black instructor. Representation matters in the wine industry.”
Jerome refers to South as his base, a place he can always return. His experience has helped develop a unique perspective on navigating a life in a new place, navigating your educational journey and the importance of building community. 

“Get involved, they are going to take care of you at South,” he said. “Get involved with AANAPISI, the brothers, the sisters, the president, the luncheons. Visit people, don’t be intimidated. The people who work here are here to help you. They are here to unlock your potential.”
Reflecting on his journey to Seattle, South Seattle College and the Northwest Wine Academy, and as his story continues to unfold, Jerome offered these words of wisdom to others in their journey:
“When one door closes, another one always opens. Be persistent, be about your word.”