Jezel Best was literally an upcoming shining star; born in Panama, at an early age she traveled to the US for a new life. In the US she enlisted and served in the military. Jezel worked, sometimes multiple jobs, to advance her lot in life and that of her son. I first met Jezel as a student; she had already completed much of her undergraduate curriculum, and she did it her way. Jezel went on to an executive MBA program while working on several entrepreneurial projects.
I knew Jezel better as we traveled with other students to six countries in pursuit of a better understanding of entrepreneurship globally. We traveled to Kenya, China, Japan, Thailand, Chile, and Costa Rico. When it was done, Jezel was engaged in entrepreneurial conversations with our colleagues in Costa Rico; helped support youth entrepreneurship domestically and internationally; and participated as a community resource and advocate for financial literacy and awareness. Within a few short years of completing her MBA, she had multiple successful projects, was sought after for speaking engagements and was launching a book.
On November 20, 2019 all of that came to an end with her sudden death at 42. Why I am writing this story is not about her life or her death but of the wonderful and humane recognition an organization awarded to her postmortem. Jezel was the 2017 Strategic Business Development honoree at the Young Gifted and Black Entrepreneurial Awards. February 26, 2020, there was a special presentation made to her son, Negus Kesean Chen Best; the organization re-named their Mission award to the ” Jezel Best Power-N-Motion Mission Award.” While her son could not attend, other members of family, friends, and classmates attended. It was encouraging to feel the warmth of a light not forgotten and a legacy in motion.