On May 12, 2014, Professor Dana Baker, First Year Education (FYE) Coordinator, at the Montgomery College Rockville Campus, invited me to share what I did with my MC education in a gymnasium filled with awesome parents and students. It was an honor to share my story and in turn have parents and students open up about their stories too! I am inspired by the many dedicated parents and courageous students who are eager to improve the quality of their lives despite setbacks.
A representative committee of students, faculty, staff, and alumni collaborated to welcome incoming students and provided tools on how to smoothly transition into college. The gymnasium was adorned with the fairly new college colors: purple, black, silver, and white, which distinguishes Montgomery College from other Maryland community colleges. The evening opened with Michael Brown as Master of Ceremonies introducing Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, Senior Vice President for Student Services and Dr. Judy Ackerman, Rockville Campus Vice President and Provost to welcome incoming students and parents. Then the Raptors mascot danced between the isles, shook hands, while bringing more energy to a room already filled with eager spirits.
Current students, Annett Ricra Oscategui and Prabuddi Weerasinghe told their story of why they chose Montgomery College and Rafael Constante, a fellow alum, joined me in sharing what we did with our education. Sheila Perkins Hawkes, Campus SFA Director advised students on how they could pay for college with Financial Aid and Scholarships. The evening closed with information sessions, college tours, and many happy students who got their application fees waived just by attending.
The night was great and I could not believe that I got through some of the emotional parts without shedding a tear. But then as I was walking to my car to go home for the evening, a parent approached me and said,
"Thank you for sharing your story Yvonne. Because of you, I now have hope for my child. She has a disability. But after listening to you, I have hope for the first time that she will go to college and be successful."
And there we were, two women and mothers alike, embracing and crying in the parking lot.
Encounters like this remind me of the beauty in humanity and the healing we can provide to others by sharing our stories. Have you ever experienced this? If so, how would you put the feeling into words?
Jason Reynolds and I graduated from University of Maryland College Park around the same time, but it wouldn’t be until years later that I would meet him at an UMCP English Department Alumni Luncheon in 2012. It was exciting to meet a fellow Terp who was not only on the road to publication success, but generous in sharing his publishing experience. And now in 2014, to attend the beginning of his book tour for his latest book, When I was the Greatest, I am filled with happiness and hope.
So what’s the book about?
In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head—even if you’re totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.
A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don’t really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.
Nah, not his thing. Ali’s got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there’s a dude looking for trouble—and, somehow, it’s always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy’s gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it’s all small potatoes; it’s not like anyone’s getting hurt.
And then there’s Needles. Needles is Noodles’s brother. He’s got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It’s cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn’t mean anything by it.
Yeah, it’s cool…until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be…somewhere they never should've been—where the people aren't so friendly, and even less forgiving.
I’m still reading it and will give my review soon. In the meantime, enjoy the pics from Reynolds' Book Talk at the UMCP bookstore.