Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Long Way

I did not post that picture to brag or flaunt my educational accomplishments. I did so to serve as an example of what a dream and a little hard work can do. You see, I was not a stellar student in high school, and neither of my parents have college degrees. I had no road map to follow. I had to figure a lot of things out on my own. But, I never gave up on myself, and I have continued to do the work of becoming the best me I can be. That is the message I have tried to convey to my students. And that is a message I will hopefully be able to live by.

Let me start from the beginning. Though my parents were married when I was born and stayed married for 10 years, they ultimately divorced, and I lived with my mother. Not to call her out for being a bad parent but I was neglected and lived in poverty. And outside of what I saw on television, I had no idea of what the world had to offer. Fast forward to the age of 13 and my brother and I moved to another city to live with our father, who was married to an alcoholic.

Though our financial situation was a lot better, my father was not/is not a very nurturing person. He did not encourage; he demanded. He did not celebrate accomplishments; he noted failure. He did not embrace my independence; he questioned every decision. I grew up feeling unloved and unsure of myself. And it was not until my senior year in high school that I really began to think about the kind of life I wanted.

So, when I tell young people that they must take ownership over the direction of their lives and that they must not allow anyone to beat them down and steal their joy, I am speaking from a place of resilience. I kept going; I kept moving. I did not loose sight of the fact that I deserved more. And it was that mindset that drove me to earn those degrees.

As such, I wanted this posting to be a reminder that anything is possible. It only takes belief in oneself and the willingness to put in the work.


  1. Congratulations! In spite of obstacles you have achieved a lot and many students often don't see too many examples of people who weren't rich succeeding. Students sometimes get it in their heads that they can't achieve a PHd because of their race, economic status, or other struggles. They can but have to struggle and challenge themselves. I remember waiting tables while paying all my tuition payments. That's what I had to do to get my bachelors and not be in debt. We have to be the example and share our stories. Thank you for sharing yours. You know I admire your tenacity, passion, and drive.

  2. I appreciate your willingness to share your story and your zeal for learning. The framed degrees obviously represent way more achievement than simply an accumulation of hours and grades. They represent your desire, belief, hard work, and perseverance--all characteristics of people who overcome and succeed. You chose not to follow, but to lead-first yourself and now others. May your story multiply.

  3. Thanks, Shelly. I don't have my doctorate yet, still have two years left... I am humbled by your kind words. You are a global superstar!

  4. Phillip,

    Once again, I am humbled. Of course, I am proud, but I do not think of myself as special. I take with me the idea that if I can do it, anyone can. Therefore, I give young people no slack. I stay on them to bring their A game.


  5. Hello Will and this is a very strong message to all people.
    Thank you for sharing this and above all, thank you for not giving up and for becoming the great educator you are today! The world of education needs people like you: people who remember how they started out, people who are fighters and people who are humble, above all. It is a quality I admire very much in people.
    Yes, you have certainly come a long way and I wish you nothing but the best - the sky is the limit, Will!
    Kindest regards and congratulations,