“As a police officer I have been entrusted with a position where I can make a difference in people’s lives. A few years ago at the Maple Leaf apartments I had helped put together an after school homework club for at-risk kids that are living under oppressive conditions. Most of them do not have the resources available to them that many other kids have.
“It is a largely minority, poor neighborhood. It is also a high crime neighborhood. There is a lot of drugs and weapons activity, and there is the whole gamut of crimes from burglaries to sexual assaults. We have had numerous fights and assaults there, gun shots, you name it. There is a mistrust of society and the police that is reinforced there. These kids are not being equipped to succeed in this society.
“I have worked in that neighborhood long enough to know that these are decent, good kids. But by the time they were eighteen, no matter how many conversations I have had with them, at that point they became angry and I was no longer a friend. I had become the enemy because I am a police officer. That is the kind of environment in that neighborhood that they are growing up in. College is nowhere near their radar. They are not even aware of the potential they have.
“I always try to connect with them, to encourage them. But I don’t know if I am making a difference with these kids. I know I am somebody who is there that is friendly, but I don’t know if I am making a difference, and that can haunt me.
“I do not work in that specific community anymore. I am really looking forward to going to school now. I want to go to law school. I want to use my education to be a voice for the people who don’t have a voice.
“I have seen kids growing up in homes where they have had to basically raise themselves, where they are not growing up in the same nurturing environment that many people in this country do. I am very passionate about doing what I can with my education to help the marginalized have access to the same opportunities and privileges as the middle class and above.
“I don’t know if that will mean becoming a politician or a judge or a lawyer, but I want to be there when the decisions are made that will influence our society as an advocate for justice. I want to break the cycle of systemic segregation and marginalization that keeps these kids from flourishing.”
Join the conversation on Facebook