"On our first day, my scholar's mom came up to me after she dropped him off. She said, 'If you can, try to persuade him to think more about going to college.' In my head I'm thinking, I don't know the kid, I'm gonna try to know him first.
But I don't really believe in talking someone into college. After we talked, I could see his passion was way more about being an artist. After a few talks, I told him how he could do the college thing and do something with art.
I don't think what I said to him will make him go to college. I think, if he really wants to at some point, he'll do that on his own. I think my job as a mentor is to make sure you have something to be happy about and move forward with.
Freedom School was kinda eye-opening. Being in Tennessee for training, it was the first time seeing textbook racism. I was culture-shocked, how our advisers would tell us to never walk out alone. It's just a whole different world out there.
How did I not understand this more when I was back home? I hear it in almost every lecture, every class. I had never been in it firsthand. So when I started my first-day teaching, it was my passion to bring everyone together.
But man, school should be more like Freedom School. Everyone is full of energy, and even if they don't come in with it, we make sure they get even a tiny ounce of it during the Harambe chants. I got more of a sense of what type of service I want to provide to young kids, especially young men of color.
Our book that first week was on bullying. We talked about dressing different and liking different music. I even shared my experience of how I was bullied. Growing up I would wear girl's makeup and girl's clothes sometimes. People would always label me as gay, but that wasn't the case at all.
Once I got older, obviously it was just a stage. I'm not ashamed of it. If I didn't do that, at that young age, I would not have as much confidence as I do now. Just be you."