At this point in my life, I realize that I have more years are behind me than in front of me and I think it is a good time for some reflection. My first nineteen years in Jamaica was all about survival. I was as poor as a church mouse
with almost no support. My mother left me when I was five years old to find work in America. My father had another family and made a valiant effort to spend a couple hours a day with me during my early years. For all practical purposes, I lived
alone without family from my fifth birthday until my seventeenth. I ran away from where I lived when I was seventeen and no one came looking for me. Now that I have my own children, I can't imagine how I survived those years. The only reason I survived
those years was for two people physically was for Joyce and Clovis Mclean, the parents of my best friend Ronald who took me into their home and treated like one of their children. My other source of subsistence came from Althea Young, my high school math teacher
who motivated me and opened my eyes to what was possible for me in this life.
I learned early that my intelligence was my greatest asset and I had to use it to find my place in the world. Althea Young kept reminding me that I was bright enough
to go to college, work for companies like IBM, enjoy Broadway plays and get my share of the best the world had to offer. Althea put the fire in my belly and as I attained each of these goals, I would write Althea to let her know that I had visited the
Louvre, gone to see Equus on Broadway and I was now a keynote speaker for IBM. A highlight for me came when I was speaking to an audience of around two hundred people at IBM and I was able to acknowledge Althea for her contributions to me as she sat in the
Coming to New York in 1966 triggered a major learning phase of my life. I learned about living in a new country where people saw me as different and undesirable. I learn to run from racist young men as they chase me in their cars. I learned
that the police saw me as someone who would hold up cab drivers. I discovered how difficult it was to live with a mother who had not seen me since the early fifties. It was so strange to have a mother. She showered me with fourteen years of pent-up
love from the moment she set eyes on me. Ahhh. It was awful. I could not stand the attention. For my entire life, I was invisible and suddenly I was the center of someone's attention. Plus, I was as skinny as a rail and she was
determined to fatten me up. However, despite our awkward relationship, I could see that my mother loved me and was determined to give me every opportunity to realize my dreams which were to be the first in my family to graduate from a university and pursue
a professional career.
I continued to learn how to survive in the Big Apple as I worked as an elevator operator and saved money to pay for my first year of college. It took me three years to save enough money to pay for that first year. It was clear
that I had to get a scholarship because I could not earn enough money while I went to school to pay for my second year. So, I played on the Junior Varsity, worked a full-time job and studied on the subway as I traveled from home to school, school to
work and back to home. I had no choice; I had to find a way fund to continue to pursue my aspiration. I did. I won an academic scholarship at the end of my first year which was renewed every year until I graduated in 1972. In fact, I won the Senior
of the Year Award from the university and was offered a fellowship to earn a Ph D. in mathematics.
After graduate school, it was time to work. My first professional job was as a math teacher at Rockland Country Day School (RCDS) in Congers, New York.
My four years at RCDS was a wonderful experience where I met some extraordinary people with Cipe Burtin on the top of the list. Cipe, a famous Art Director and faculty at Parsons School of Design became a surrogate mother and a life coach to me. I lived in
her beautiful home in Stony Point for at least ten years. where she taught me everything from cooking to art and gave me a chance to travel the world, I would go off for a month each year to see a part of the world that I never saw before. Those ten years
were some of the best years of my life. After RCDS, I work at IBM for twenty-five years. I started at IBM as a programmer and left as a manager and professional speaker. These were busy and exciting years: full of learning, teaching, and travel. For
the last twelve years, I was a faculty member at the University of Phoenix where I had the privilege to educate working adults.
I got married for the second time in 1985 and this marriage lasted twenty-six years longer than my first four year
marriage. I married a beautiful artist from Little Rock, Arkansas who turned out to be a wonderful mother to our three children, Madison, Justin and Jo Elizabeth. We moved from Nyack, New York to Whittier, California when Madison, our first child was
one year old. We bought a home and raised our three children there for the next twenty-five years. Getting my children successful from kindergarten to college was a major accomplishment for our family. After our children left our nest; Madison as
a rap musician and DJ, Justin as a start-up entrepreneur and Jo as a dancer and teacher; we decided that it was time for us to pursue our separate dreams. We are still friends today even if we don't see each other very often.