graduate M.P.A. student
Hometown: Trenton, New Jersey
High School: Bristol Junior-Senior High School
Student status: Nontraditional student
I am inspirational.
I am courageous.
I am worth it.
My story began in the summer of 1966 with an emergency cesarean section necessitated by my lack of oxygen in the womb. I was premature—about the size of a hand—and would need special care. My newly-single mother—who was already a mother of two—had lived through domestic violence at the hands of my father, and would soon learn that I was born with spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy.
I am a product of domestic violence, labeled and placed into undesirable boxes; disease and addiction are all part of my story.
Growing up, I quickly realized the power of words and how they can shape your self-perception. Retarded, crippled and peg-leg were the labels used by those who attempted to define me. All I ever wanted was the mythical “normal.” Most of my life was spent in a continuous loop of surgeries, physical therapy and homeschool. My parents insisted I attend college. However, I drifted between majors and a series of jobs that took a toll on my already fragile body. There was little thought given toward higher education.
Many years later, after growing up, having a family of my own and retiring, depression, despair and drug addiction threatened the life I had created. I was drifting away, but luckily, I had a wonderful support system and found a path to recovery. As with all great stories, there is a loving wife that decided her husband needed a hobby. I enjoyed history and politics, so I decided to finally finish that long elusive bachelor’s degree in government and public policy.
The decision to attend UB was a life “crossroads.” Little did I know how much my perspective and passion for making a difference would change. The greatest asset afforded to students at UB is the opportunity to participate in change, make a difference, as well as create positive and significant impact. Through student governance, honor societies and advisory boards I gained leadership, organizational professionalism and a sense of community.
There is a moment of great enlightenment when a student finds their voice. I found my voice this past semester while researching Central Baltimore. I discovered there was a lack of data supporting drug treatment outcomes. I spent months asking the same questions over and over: “why are we not tracking outcomes? Where is the payoff? And how do we move the agenda? I began to get angry, and I found my passion. It was that “eureka” moment where I could take all my experience, my acquired knowledge, skills and abilities and work toward making a positive change in drug treatment policies.
To the students of the University of Baltimore, I say: “Do not fear that moment of inspiration. Have the courage to engage and ask questions. Do not accept the status quo! Take advantage of every opportunity to ‘Be YOU at UB.’”