Jhaquiel Reagan gained his 15 minutes of fame, and then some, earlier this year when his story about walking 10 miles to a job interview went viral. As his story spread nationwide, the country couldn't seem to get enough of the work ethic the 19 year old exhibited, and he couldn't hide his joy at being offered a job by the man who saw him walking and gave him a ride.
This was in February. Fast forward to present day, where Reagan has a new job, one that he feels is putting him on a path to own a successful business himself someday, and has welcomed a new baby into his family, another son that he's hoping to raise with the same work ethic that made him famous.
Jhaquiel Reagan shortly after the story of him walking 10 miles went viral. (Image source: WXIN-TV)
When Art Bouvier saw Reagan walking in Indianapolis on a freezing and snowy day to interview for a job, he not only offered to give him a ride, but offered him a job at Papa Roux, his New Orleans-style restaurant.
Watch this video from WXIN-TV that made Reagan a viral sensation:
Bouvier saw something in Reagan.
After Reagan's story went viral, a man in Colorado working for Vemma, a nutrition company making the energy drink Verve among other products, saw this same something in Reagan.
Fred Soto, a man Reagan said is his mentor and business partner, called it grit.
After a few months of working at Papa Roux, Reagan decided to take up the opportunity offered by Vemma.
"I'm in a business where it's not easy. Direct sales is not an easy business," Soto told TheBlaze. "But there are people who succeed and the thing that's a common denominator is grit. It's almost like an X-factor.
"When you work with so many people, it's easy to identify grit," Soto said of Reagan.
Reagan flew out to Colorado for a couple months for training.
"We put him on a course to change who he is: put him on right path so that he can learn the necessary skill set," Soto said. "He's really going to turn some heads as he develops."
At this point, Reagan said his role with Vemma is "about energy drinks and video links." This business model involves Reagan talking with people he meets and asking if he can show them a promotional video about the company. If they're interested in joining, Reagan said he takes their information and stays in contact with them.
"At the company's core is our mission to help others by enhancing their well-being, and offering an income stream to people who introduce others to a product line they believe in," the company video stated.
"My goal is to be an ambassador and be making a six figure income, and honestly my main goal is to help other kids my age see what I see and do what I do," Reagan said. "I show people they can be successful and do better with their life."
Learning his work ethic from his father, Reagan said he hopes to impart the same trait on his two sons.
"At age 13 or 14, I'd go to work with [my dad]. I saw how he ran his business. I'd go to meetings," Reagan said. "I want to set my family up and be financially free for the rest of my life. Now that I have a newborn son, I want to encourage him to do the same."
Reagan with his fiance and their newborn son. (Photo credit: Jhaquiel Reagan)
When asked about the perspective held by some that the younger generation is entitled and not accustomed to hard work, Reagan and Soto said they think this sentiment is shifting.
"I believe the current model -- go to school, get good grades; go to college, get good grades; take out student loans; get a job -- I think that model is antiquated," Soto said. "I believe it’s a broken model. In this age demographic, these kids are realizing it's a broken model."
"I would say, personally, more and more people my age are trying and trying to work hard to earn a living than thinking they deserve something," Reagan said. "When all that happened to me, I didn’t think I deserved it. I didn’t deserve the blessing that I got."
Even though the viral attention changed various aspects of Reagan's life, one thing has remained the same throughout.
"I don’t mind working my tail to the bone everyday," he said.