Never in a thousand years would I have thought that I would be a part of something so amazing: igniting the hearts and minds of our children and youth! I think back to 1993 when I wanted to become a police officer. When applying for the position, I was asked “why?” Besides wanting to be just like Wonder Woman, I knew that I wanted to work with children and youth. Growing up, I attended a local community center (afterschool program) right down the street from where I lived. The center was run by a husband and wife who inspired me and many others to make a difference in our community, just as they did. The couple not only sparked my mind in wanting one day to follow in their footsteps, but they sparked the minds of so many who went on to become teachers, law enforcement officers, and social workers, just to name a few.
The center was a safe haven. It was a place to go after school and prior to my parents returning from work. During this time, I was constantly bullied. I was born in the United States, but my parents were not. I consistently had to duck and dodge rocks that were being thrown at me from behind parked cars and found myself having to fight when I would get off of the school bus because of where my parents were from.
Through those experiences, my path led me to want to work with children and youth because I believed that they are our future and I wanted to make a difference in their lives, just as the couple who ran the local center had made an impact on me. I became a police officer in the very city where I was bullied. The very city that people would say nothing good could come.
I was finally the Wonder Woman I dreamed of being as a child. I wanted to ignite the minds of the children and youth from my community by sharing my experiences and showing them that they can be all that they put their minds to.
My life since then has been nothing short of amazing. After leaving law enforcement, I continued on my path with the city as a program manager of an afterschool program, which led to becoming a director of an out-of-school time program. It felt as if my life had just begun. It was awesome! After 11 years, I knew there was more.
In September of 2015, I was hired as a quality advisor at Prime Time. As I reflect on the impact over the years in the field, I think of counselors whom I had hired who are now teachers, afterschool program managers and directors. Children and youth who attended my program have become NFL players, teachers, police officers and more. As an employee of Prime Time, I have had the opportunity to coach and advise out-of-school time directors to create quality programs. Currently, I am the assessment manager. I manage six contracted external assessors. It is my duty as a manager to ensure that we are assessing the needs of the classrooms objectively. I am not only igniting hearts and minds, I am now lending a helping hand to ignite the same for others.