My mom was a smoker, and the smell would linger in the apartment like a fading campfire on its last ember. But I grew up in the 80’s, and cigarettes weren’t a public health crisis yet, at least they weren’t advertised as one. Everyone I knew smoked or tried it, but I always knew smoking couldn’t be good. The Bronx seemed to produce this inescapable exhaust you had to deal with and you either breathed it in, held your breath, or left. I had the misfortune to only be presented with the most trying option. I couldn’t imagine myself inhaling, I didn’t have the funds to leave, and so I held my breath for as long as I could. This is how I explained my chronic, and nearly fatal, asthma diagnosis to many for a short while when I finally got the opportunity to leave the Bronx.
Although the story was true, characterizing my home life as a microcosm for many of the social issues that existed in the Bronx was a way I could point directly to problems that deserved reform. Smoke is such a vague way of describing the life I experienced, but it’s accurate in its embodiment of suffocating hopelessness, an unclear future, and an emotional distance that blanketed my neighborhood perpetuating violence and disconnect. The anecdote allowed me to introduce the poignant, rather than engaging in the provocative subjects driven by sensational news cycles, particularly when it came to the Bronx.
When I left the Bronx I was able to breath and education was easier with a supportive community and consistent expectations. I began to believe education would be my way to improve the world. Although professionally the route toward a solution to some of the issues surrounding education in communities like the one I grew up in can sometimes be hazy, I believe I’ve developed a skill set that’s allowed me to be a guiding light for adults and children. My goal is to complete my doctorate in Urban Education at CUNY Grad Center, and publish work that teaches educators how to improve communities through educational research. My educational experience is wide ranging and I’d like to develop studies that are not simply for scholars to consume.