Colorful alumnus shows pride with KSU-themed car
As the weather outside gets warmer, do not be surprised to see a bright gold, Kennesaw State University-themed car – with no doors – cruising around Kennesaw. The vehicle, a 1996 Lexus ES 300, is owned by KSU alumnus Jason Walker ’04, ’17.
About halfway through the Executive MBA program in 2016, Walker said he was prompted by his wife to purchase a newer vehicle, so he did. Then the question for Walker was what to do with that old Lexus.
“My first inclination was to donate it, but I know where all the duct tape is and the thing is just cobbled together anymore,” Walker said. “I put 175,000 miles on it myself and it’s approaching 300,000.”
Eventually, Walker decided to keep the 1996 model and take the doors off.
“Before I took that action, I consulted an attorney and was told I just needed to put a side mirror on the driver’s side if there’s not one, and other than that you just need a windshield and a rearview mirror.”
After having some fun driving his doorless car around for a while, including to and from his classes, Walker thought he would honor his alma mater and change the car’s original tan color.
“I decided, for a little school spirit and with football getting ready to kick off, to paint it yellow,” Walker said. “So I got eight cans of Rust-Oleum gold at Home Depot and went to town in the backyard. I then started driving that to school, and then I bought some decals and put them on there, and then it just became a fun school-spirit thing.”
Now, the car is decorated with Kennesaw State magnets, stickers, logos and sometimes a large flag flying in back. Most notable, however, is the amount a permanent black ink on it.
“It started when I brought some markers to school to ask my fellow students to sign it,” Walker said.
Since then, Walker carries black markers in the vehicle with him so KSU students, alumni and others can also write or draw on it. During the alumni association’s annual homecoming tailgate last October, Walker – wearing a gold suit – parked the car so that partygoers could sign it or take photos beside it.
“It’s really just been a fun tribute to the Owl nation and that’s it,” Walker said. “It’s just for smiles.”
Walker is someone who certainly enjoys making people smile. Along with his gold car and suit, he also wore some pretty flashy shoes when walking across the graduation stage in May 2017.
“Part of that was really just having some fun with the director of our program, Dr. Alison Keefe,” Walker said. “I really just did some of it to poke and prod her.
“With the suit, it was just insult to injury and a lot of fun. I wore the suit to a couple events for the program and then for graduation, I found a kit online where I could make LEDs on my shoes light up with each step, so I thought that would be fun to do. I’m nerdy like that and enjoy those kinds of things. Putting it all together, it was all for the laugh and for the celebration of Kennesaw State, and all that it’s meant for me. It’s been a great experience here.”
Born and raised in Cobb County, Walker first earned a Bachelor of Science in information systems from KSU before acquiring his MBA 13 years later. He lives in Kennesaw.
“It’s great to be here and I love celebrating all that Cobb has developed to be, including Kennesaw and what it’s grown into,” Walker said. “As a kid, I would come here with my mom (Dr. Judy Walker ’91) – she finished her degree when we were young kids – so we were always on campus.
Walker stated that he stays involved with Kennesaw State as much as he can and has made some lasting friendships through the university.
“I’m interested in seeing what opportunities I could take to be more involved,” Walker said. “It’s been exciting to see the football program launch and I’ve become friends with some of the professors and teachers that I’ve had over the years, so it’s fun to see and interact with them and kind of be a part of the school spirit that happens.”
Walker has worked for about 13 years as a product manager in the business division of Cox Communications in Atlanta.
“I’m really leveraging a lot of what I did in my undergrad program and my experience here at Kennesaw was just fantastic,” Walker said. “The EMBA program was a great help for kind of rounding out some experience I wanted to get to continue moving forward. Kennesaw has just been great for me and I love what I do.”
As a tribute to KSU, Walker posts photos, videos and other information about his car and the university at hootyhoo.life.