As you prepare to graduate from the Prison University Project, what kind of legacy do you want to leave? How do you want your life to touch others in the college program, at San Quentin, and the larger community?
It is difficult to talk about my legacy considering the environment in which I achieved my college degree. The truth is I never expected to achieve anything positive. I truly believe that we are not defined by the things that happen to us in our lives but how we deal with those things. As I consider the word “legacy,” I realize that life is not linear. I have experienced many ups and downs and it is through those experiences that I have effected the lives of the people around me. I feel like my legacy here at San Quentin is that self-imposed obstacles can be overcome, and if we continue to make good choices and decisions we can change the narrative of our lives.
Tell us about an instructor or tutor who has been especially influential in your experience as a student.
Over the last several years I have had many instructors who have effected my life in a positive way. However, the one who has had a lasting effect on my life is Nathaniel Moore. Nate was my African History teacher and as I reflect on that relationship I realize that it was not so much the content of the class, but the easiness of talking to him. No matter what we were talking about, I felt accepted for who I was, not for what I wanted others to see me as. We eventually started working together in a different organization and that relationship has continued to grow. I cannot thank Nate enough for giving me the space to be myself and helping me grow as a person.
Who are the people in your life who have helped you succeed? Tell us about them.
In 2008 I was housed in Ad-Seg at Susanville State Prison. I had no idea the direction my life was going to take. What I did know was that I had an amazing family who refused to give up on me, even when I was making bad decisions. My mom Vicky, my sister DeeDee, my aunt and uncle Veda and Robert, and not counting the rest of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. In 2010 I was lucky enough to be housed at San Quentin and my life was forever changed. I met an amazing woman who is now my wife, her bad luck not mine. Sarah showed me that it was okay to be myself, that exposing who I really was would help me grow; thank you for that, Sarah. My entire family stood by me as I struggled through school. They never let me give up on myself and for that I will forever be thankful. Not only is this accomplishment for me, but for all of you as well. I love all of you.