Monday, June 11, 2012

Life IS Change!

After enduring well-publicized personal discrepancies in the past, Mr. North blogs about how 50 Cent and Oprah managed to put aside their differences and tape a one-on-one ep of “Oprah’s Next Chapter,” recorded at the home of 50's grandparents in Queens. This is a "must-see" for EVERYONE - not just rap, hiphop and/or 50 or Oprah fans and followers!

Here's a story about a Green Tech student from Albany’s South End, now heading off to Morehouse University eyeing a career in neurosurgery: From an early age, Xavier learned to defend himself. Like many kids in Albany’s South End, he was sucked into a rough life that few outsiders experience.

His life lacked clear focus. As an assistant patrol leader in Boy Scouts, he'd help clean the neighborhood by day. At night, he and friends would trash it.

Then he enrolled at Green Tech High Charter School – and everything changed.

On June 29, Xavier will graduate from Green Tech and prepare to attend Morehouse University to pursue a future in neurosurgery. He credits his high school for turning his life around.

Growing up, Xavier read books from the library and his church, including Gifted Hands, by neurosurgeon Ben Carson. Xavier says that book began his transformation and quest to become a neurosurgeon.

Xavier says Dr. Carson's similar struggles as a youth helped him work harder to overcome his challenges.

Plenty of kids from Xavier’s neighborhood grow up like Carson, but most don’t go on to achieve the same success. Surrounded by abandoned houses and rundown streets, this neighborhood has seen violence, drugs, and students dropping out of school.

Forced to tuck in his shirt and buckle down at Green Tech, he rebelled his first year, using his strength and street-toughness in the school hallways, even with staff.

But he recognized that Green Tech had a different atmosphere – structured but supportive of all. This was different from his previous school. After a year at Green Tech, Xavier began to change.

“At the end of the year when the students were cleaning out their lockers, I found an unoccupied locker, filled with college science textbooks,” said John Taylor, principal of Green Tech. “Stunned, I when to the main office to find out the locker’s owner. It was Xavier’s. I knew he had to come back for 10th grade.”

At the beginning of his second year, Xavier met Suki Cintron, Green Tech’s Director of College counseling. Although they bickered at first, she challenged Xavier after seeing his potential to become a responsible, intellectual young man.

“Xavier’s like a sponge – he soaks up any and all information,” said Cintron. “I started a ‘learn culture through food’ club, which exposed the students to different cuisines and traditions of the world. Soon after, Xavier started reading the daily philosophies on my Dalai Lama calendar in my office. He’s always eager to learn.”

Suki identified Xavier’s interest in medicine and introduced him to the Science and Technology Entry Program at Albany Medical College. The competitive program mentors and introduces students to health and medical related careers. He learned how to accept new cultures, be professional and on time, stand up straight, and project his voice.

“I learned that I need to be more than just interested to enter the healthcare profession. I need to be completely dedicated,” said Xavier. “The first time I saw a real brain in the program, it was a very emotional experience, and fueled my desire to become a neurosurgeon.”

After his sophomore year, Xavier interviewed to enter the distinguished American Legion’s Boys State program. Xavier told the interviewer he wanted to bring a different perspective to the traditionally conservative program. Two days later, Xavier was accepted.

Back at school, he rediscovered his passion for serving his community. He needed 90 hours of service to meet school requirements. He has completed more than 300 hours of service.

Xavier recently continued his volunteer work in the Dominican Republic with nine other Green Tech students – Xavier’s first time out of the country and on a plane. They mentored students in reading and math, painted and fixed schools, and played games with them.

“I went down to Cabarete, DR with a goal to change the students’ lives,” said Xavier. “I was astonished to realize that they had actually changed my life. They came from poor backgrounds, but never let that affect their happiness, something that I hope to always carry with me anywhere I go.”
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