"My husband and I have been married about two and a half years, but we’ve known each other for almost 10 years now. We were friends for a while, then dated for about 6 years or so before we got married. What can I say? I love him so much. He takes such good care of me."

"Even though I can’t play music, I really love music, and I really love being around people that love to play music. I tried to pick up drums, but I just couldn’t do it. I wasn’t even into music that much in high school, but I really loved going to concerts with my friends in high school. Even if I didn’t like the bands, I liked the experience of being at concerts. When I came to RPI, I got involved in this community that put on small concerts on campus. I got to help run that and put together concerts. That was the coolest thing in the world.

And that inspired me to change what I wanted to study. I came to the school for chemical engineering, but after learning about all of the electronics that powered these concerts, I switched to electrical engineering. And I’ve come full circle. Music and electronics inspired me to change my major, and now I’m using my engineering knowledge to help musicians create better music.

I like that I’ve found a community of people that really love art and music, people that understand that the humanities are just as important as engineering. Without art, technology doesn’t ever get into anyone’s hands."

"Yo! Get a picture of us!"

"I want to get my life together. I’m a diabetic. I want to start paying more attention to my health. I want to get my own house for my own family. Make my life better. Make my grandson happy. I want something better for him. I know what I need to do. I need to get back to school so I can learn to read and write. I want to be able to read street signs and learn the roads. I want to be able to read to my grandson. I wish I was just on a beach somewhere, like Hawaii or Florida, reading with my grandson. He’s my pride and joy. That's all I've got in life."

"Ain’t nothing going on for me. I’m on disability. I’m on a fixed income. Can’t take vacations. I guess I keep going on for my wife. I’ve been married 18 years. I can’t handle her nagging, though. She’s always bitching me out for being wrong. My wife’s a bitch… and she knows it. I call her that all the time. She’s the queen of bitches."

There’s got to be something good about her.

"Oh I didn’t say there’s nothing good about her. I was just pointing out that she *is* the queen of bitches."

And what does she call you?

"An asshole."

"I wanted to do something like you're doing: talk to people and help share their stories. But what you're doing right now, going out and talking with people... that's the part I haven't had the courage to do. It's the one step that I haven't been able to work myself up to. But you've inspired me to at least try, so... thank you!"

"Tea. It's what gets me going in the morning. Without it, I simply cannot function."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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’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."

"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."

"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!"

"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."

"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."

“At 8 years old, I learned from my mom that I had a slow metabolism and that I needed to portion control. From that point on, I became obsessed with looking at food labels. By 4th grade, I was drinking Slim-fast shakes for breakfast. My mom had every good intention. She was chubby as a child and was made fun of by her own siblings, so she was trying to protect her daughter from having a similar experience.

In college, I studied abroad in Mexico. My first day there, I looked around and thought, ‘Nobody knows me here. They don’t know how I normally eat or look or behave. I can be anybody I want to be.’ So I just let myself go. I met this guy… I like to call him my Mexican lover. He asked me not to drink around him, so I experienced Mexico completely sober. Amazing! I was discovering who I really was for the first time since childhood. Getting away from the familial judgements and the influence of alcohol, I started to realize just how little I actually knew about myself.

But it was still me plus food. And after 6 months back in the states, I was at bottom of the barrel again. During a long road-trip with a roommate, I read this book that spoke my truth about all the crazy thoughts and feelings I’d had about food. Worried I’m going to run out of food. Packing food just in case. Eating it as soon as I’m out of the house. I had felt like I was the only one stuck in food prison, but this was the first time I felt like I wasn’t alone in my struggle.

The teachings of a guru I found at that time also impacted me deeply. ‘You are not your mind. Your mind is just an accumulation of experiences you’ve had.’ I had never even considered that before. All my life, I was my thoughts, but now I realized that I was something greater than my body and mind. It meant that I had the ability to control my thoughts, which was the most exciting thing I could have ever imagined.”

"I just quit my job and got another one because they weren’t paying me enough. We’re actually on our way to the library to read for a little bit. I owe a late fee. When I get my first paycheck or my taxes back—whichever happens first—I’m going to pay it off so we can take the books home."

"I graduated with a degree in accounting, but pretty quickly I saw the advantage of having an IT background, so I took a job with GE where I got significant on-the-job training. They trained me, taught me how to program. I started with a small in-house IBM 1401 computer and took to it right away. After that, I joined the development staff at SUNY Albany. I worked there for 7 or 8 years before deciding to move back into the private sector. That’s when things really took off.

Now I work for an IT consulting firm, staffing and recruiting. I used to do IT support… in fact, I know a lot of the staff that do that because I recruited many of them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed being an IT manager. I got to do a lot of traveling for the company. I had the chance to visit a number of other parts of the country, from coast to coast and everywhere in between. I got to see a lot of beautiful places all across the country, but still maintain home base in Troy. That was enjoyable. Now, I’m not into the travel aspects of it as much as I used to be. I’ve got a family that I enjoy very much — a lovely wife, two daughters, two grandsons. So I’ve moved out of the technical field and more into the Human Resources aspects of it so that I could be closer to home but still get a chance to interact with people."

"I’m currently studying Applied Physics at RPI. I’m actually finishing up my second-to-last semester here. It's been a little rough, but next semester looks like it’s going to be a lot more fun than difficult, so I’m looking forward to that, at least. My plan right now is to go to grad school for material science. If I learn a little more coding, I can do some neat stuff with supercomputers and the modeling of systems. But I'm not sure if I'll be able to make that happen. At the moment, I’m looking more at going into research—material physics, stuff like that.

To be perfectly honest, though, I’m in the process of—pardon my language—getting my shit together for once. I’m dealing with a recent breakup, and while we’re both handling it very amicably and we’re still friends, I’m getting into the process of fixing all the things I realized were making me not the person I wanted to be. So I wake up in the morning and think, 'Today’s a chance to make myself better.'"