“I *really* like coffee. I actually woke up in the morning once, realized I was out, and drove immediately to the grocery store to get some.”


“Tea. It’s what gets me going in the morning. Without it, I simply cannot function.”

I still can’t believe I had a kid.

“He’s everything to me. I know I’m young, but I do like being a mom. It’s not bad once you get used to it. My family helped me a lot, which made it easier for me. After I had the baby, everything was different. It took me awhile to get used to getting up in the night and all that stuff, but it’s easier now that he’s bigger. I still can’t believe I had a kid.”

“Drawn to video games…”

“When I was growing up I didn’t have a lot of ways to talk to people because I lived out in the boondocks of Northeastern PA, and everyone was so spread out. It was hard to socialize. So I was drawn to video games—specifically MMORPGs—as a way to pass time and as a way to meet people. That experience inspired me to try to make video games. I started programming and quickly decided that it was a field I wanted to get into, so I went into computer science. I’d like to get into the video game industry, but I’ve also recently been studying artificial intelligence and machine learning, and that’s really interesting to me too. But it’s also pretty difficult. Difficult to get into. Not a whole lot of resources online since it’s such an emergent field. I’m still trying to figure things out. Honestly, I wake up in the morning looking forward to doing good work and making my parents proud. I’d like to teach, but academia is cruel in a lot of ways. My family is kind of struggling financially, so I just want to get a job and help my family out for a while. Then maybe I’ll move on from there once I get some experience.”

“You realize you have another day…”

“At some point in life, you realize you have another day. And if you have another day, then you have choices and options. I think the fact that I’m still working, and I’m 75 years old… that’s a passion, in a way. I used to teach, but now I’m in the student services business. I will probably be doing what I’m doing now until I’m disabled or dead. That, more than anything, is important to me… but it’s not just that one thing. The longer you live, you develop more passions, more connections to the world.”

I wanna be a rapper.

“I wanna be a rapper. I’m working on my old school free-styling. I’m gonna talk to some guys I know that have studios, but I’m trying to fill two notebooks first. I’m a writer, I guess. Sing. Guitar. Poetry. I’ll even write songs, but my focus is rap. I put my stuff up on Facebook and I usually get like 100 to 150 views each time. That’s not crazy bad. I’m hoping when I come out with an album, it’ll be good.”

People don’t like to think differently.

“I honestly believe I don’t really want that much out of this life. My pleasures in life are really simple: the people in my life, being able to travel, being able to help my community. God blessed me with this million dollar brain. I have an amazing imagination, and I have so many great ideas. But the dreams aren’t cheap, and that’s where the money comes in. It’s the reality of things.

If you’ve got the money, you’ve got the voice. If you don’t, no one hears you. When I open the friggin’ business review and hear about some kid I’ve never heard of with a rich father who decided to develop an old warehouse. It’s like… poverty and wealth are bumping up against each other all of the time. Why is that? You can say, pull yourself up by the bootstrap or whatever, but, look… I’m keepin’ it 100. When I park my car out front of this building full of white people and there’s all these black people waiting for the bus out there who don’t know anything about what goes on inside. And the people on the inside don’t know anything about the people outside. How do you fix that?

You start by fixing it in yourself. You’re around people that think like you, and talk like you, and act like you… no one’s thinking different, no one’s challenging each other. When you start to realize that, you can start to change it. Start asking questions. But people don’t like to think differently. Look, I don’t care what you think, I just want you to think. I realized that even for myself… I was pigeonholing myself, feeling threatened by ideas that I’d never considered before. It’s hard work.

I’m going through my own personal transformation—realizing what I want to change and what I need to do to get there. And, basically, it’s about doing the work. Do the work and you’ll reap the benefit. You’re either going to keep up or you’re just going to get left behind. And with everything changing so much—jobs and technology, you ain’t got no choice. You gotta do what you need to do.”

Got it done

“I just got over 3 or 4 weeks of pneumonia. I’m better now, but that was not an easy task… missing work and trying to take care of the kids. I’m by myself, mom *and* dad of 3. And the system doesn’t help you just for a few weeks. You have to be out for a while. I got really run down because they sold the house we lived in for 9 years, and we ended up moving the whole house ourselves. Me, my 16-year-old, my 15-year-old, my 8-year-old, and a friend with a pickup did it all. We just finished unpacking not too long ago. It was rough, but God willing, I’m still going! I got it done!”

Change Yourself

“There was a time in my life I struggled with anger. I didn’t know how to control it or deal with it. Someone spoke to me about it, and taught me that if you feel a conversation starting to turn into an argument, if you pay close enough attention to that conversation, you can see the signs of anger creeping in, and you can stop it before it becomes a raging fire. You have to put your ego aside, and you’ll have a better opening to others. You can put the fire out. That was something I struggled with a lot growing up. My father was always an angry person, so I thought I had to be like that in order to get my point across. But I’ve learned how to get my point across without anger. I’ve learned how to calm people down when they’re getting worked up. I’ve learned that a simple ‘I’m sorry you’re right’ cuts through everything.

I don’t know if God is real, but I know I have a heart. I know someone can hurt me when they say negative things to me. I have feelings. I’m a human. There is love within me. So why not keep the negativity away? Why not take the love within me and share that. Life is too short. Why not let me try to join hand-in-hand with you so we can enjoy the little bit of time we have together. You can spend every day saying ‘I’m a good person. I look out for other people.’ But really… do you? Did you really ever change someone’s life? Is there anyone in the world that knows that they are who they are today because of you? Life is time, and time runs out. I don’t know when my time will run out. What have I done to be remembered by one person? You don’t need to be remembered by everybody. Just one person that remembers your name, one person who you’ve made a difference in their life. They can think of you as a positive force, even when you’re not around anymore. It all comes back to the time that you take to change yourself.”

Exercise Science

“I grew up playing sports. My favorite was definitely basketball, but now I play college football. I saw so many injuries in sports, it made me look behind them and ask questions like what makes bones so weak and how can we help make them stronger. That’s why I decided to study Exercise Science at Hudson Valley. It’s really all about personal training, physical therapy, injury management. When I’m done with school, I’d like to take what I’ve learned and start my own orthopedic medical practice.”