Institutions: Shaw University (BS), New York University (MPA)
Majors: Business Administration and Public Administration
The great Marcus Garvey is someone I consider a resilient scholar through his work as an African American orator through the twelfth century. Michelle Alexander, author and voice for the African American community, highlights mass incarceration and its influence on policies that are imposed today. There are many others that come to mind when I hear the words “Resilient Scholar." The late great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who faced much adversity while trying to instill a sense of equality for all during the Civil Rights Era. Last, our current, President Barack Obama, who we know faces adversity not only because of his position, but because of the color of his skin. A Resilient Scholar is the legacy of those aforementioned.
I grew up in a household with three older brothers and in a neighborhood where crime and drug use were prevalent. I know firsthand how it is to live in an area where the only thing you see is people standing on the corner selling drugs to the neighborhood drug users. One of the events that altered my life was having the opportunity to visit another country during the summer right before going to 8th grade. The experience opened my mind to a world I never knew existed, thus creating a strong desire to overcome all odds. Visiting different parts of European countries further sparked my curiosity for learning. My perspective on life changed and I begin to think differently when faced with obstacles back home. My family always realized I was smart and wanted a different life for me than what we were accustomed to living. The push for me to make something of myself really hit home as teenager—at the age of 15, two of my closest friends were murdered. To make matters worse, my mother was worried because two of my older brothers had just been sentenced to multiple years in prison.
Pursuing higher education really changed the course of my life. If given the opportunity, I highly recommend all to pursue some type of post-secondary education—there are so many advantages and it will help propel your career and expand your knowledge. I think higher education is especially important for men and women of color because it places us in position to be at the forefront of our community. One of the greatest benefits of pursuing an advanced degree for me was increasing my networks and connects with a multitude of professionals from diverse backgrounds. The people who I’ve come to know are now important figures in their neighborhood, lawyers, doctors, engineers and entrepreneurs. Working alongside these individuals, we push to create change for the betterment of society as a whole. The fact that I went to college enabled me to make lifelong friends with ambitions similar to my own. Also, I feel certain that I avoided going to jail or being murdered at a young age because I went to my decision to go off to school.
I can’t begin to imagine where I would be today if I didn't go to college. At times, I still find it hard to believe that I currently serve as the Director of Constituent Services in the New York State Governor’s Office. In my role, I am responsible for handling all constituent inquires for Elected Officials across Long Island, Staten Island and Upstate New York. It’s an amazing opportunity, and I am able to use the knowledge I’ve gained to serve in a way that will make the lives of those around me better.
The advice I want to give to anyone reading, especially the Young Black Kings who feel hopeless, is to never give up. I know the struggle, but you have to understand there is more than what you see in front of you. If you stay determined and persistent, you’ll find yourself in positions throughout life that help you realize anything is possible. Remember these words:
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.”
Where you are from does not have to determine what you can do, who you will become, or the places you can go. Make choices to press forward in spite of adversity, and be reminded that you can rise above the hardship and live a fulfilled life.