BET Awards 2022: Congrats To Shine-A-Light Winner Luke Lawal Jr.
Shine a Light - Luke Lawal Jr.
Luke Lawal Jr. is D.C. native was honored at the BET Awards 2022 with the ‘Shine a Light Award’ sponsored by Walmart for his selfless efforts to give back to his community through his many ventures, including HBCU Buzz.
Lawal Jr. is not someone who can be put into one box, or labeled as one thing. Over the course of his career, he has crossed a variety of different fields and continues to do so but the one thing that has never changed is his entrepreneurial spirit.
Growing up in DC, and the son of HBCU alums, it was never a question whether Lawal Jr. would attend an HBCU. Lawal Jr.’s mother attended Howard University and his father was a Bowie State University alum. He decided to take the same route as his father, but attended Bowie State with a track athlete. In an interview with HBCU 101, he discussed how his decision changed the course of his life.
“Everyone looked like me, everyone wanted to help me, so it helped me balance it all, being an athlete and biochem major,” He told HBCU 101. “I wouldn’t be the man who I am today if it wasn’t for Bowie State University.”
Lawal Jr.’s ambition took him very far in college. He joined the Student Government Association which indirectly led to him creating HBCU Buzz, a platform that would promote awareness of HBCU culture. He also spoke about being inspired by all of the leaders at a conference he attended as an SGA member called the National Association of Student Affairs Professionals. After he met some friends at the Florida A&M University, he took a trip to the campus and was floored by the professionalism and ambiance of the campus. He realized what HBCU students were missing, a platform to connect all HBCU students and change the perception of HBCUs in the media.
“I think I spent two months doing research, and then I started to realize that HBCU students don’t have a voice,” Lawal Jr. told HBCU 101.
“So I’m just like how can I create a narrative with HBCU Buzz to the point where we’re not just dishing out content we want people to see but we’re being informational, we’re putting out facts, we’re informing the community about the good things and the bad things, but also enlightening the people that are not on the campuses about what it looks like to go to HBCU?” The news outlet provides daily coverage to all 105 HBCUs.
After graduating with his degree in biochemistry, Lawal Jr. continued his entrepreneurial journey with HBCU Buzz, and Skywalk Entertainment, a marketing firm he created to funnel a lot of his events through. But he decided to dedicate most of his time to medicine, working full-time at Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare company.
But deep down the 33-year-old DC native knew that working for Kaiser was not his true calling. He told One Yard it finally sunk in that he belonged elsewhere after an interview he had with CNN. “As soon as I left the interview my co-worker was like, ‘Wait, were you on CNN? Why are you here?’ said Lawal Jr. “I was trying to explain to her that I had this whole other business involving HBCUs and that I got this and that. And she’s like, ‘You don’t belong here.’ He took her words to heart, quitting his job as pharmacy tech and joined a lobbying firm where he worked on campaigns with politicians, and was a marketing analyst. But he wanted to do even more.
He took an even bigger leap in his career by moving to LA, and created L & Company, a minority based corporation. Through his company he established several brands such as Root Care Health, a private mental health agency, The Registry, and Taper Inc, which modernizes the beauty and grooming experience. His latest venture Taper app aims to change how hairstylists and barbers engage with their consumers.
He also co-founded Suited Lifestyle with a colleague from Howard University which aims to create an extensive network of young professionals and other progressive, like-minded individuals from various walks of life who all share a commitment to leadership, self-sufficiency, and peer-to-peer engagement through social and cultural events.
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The HBCU alum’s ventures don’t stop there, early this year he unveiled the first cryptocurrency $HBCU coin. “HBCU coin will allow students to gain knowledge about the crypto industry, while potentially building shared value with $HBCU holders allowing alumni and supporters the opportunity to continue their support for and connection to Black colleges beyond graduation,” he said in a news release.
Whether it’s educating Black students on the advantages of understanding crypto, elevating voices in the HBCU community, or developing an app to change how consumers engage with their barbers, there are no limits for Lawal Jr. when it comes to giving back to his community and amplifying Black voices.