Applying to Colleges

A key focus of my blog is General Education. For those high school students who are aspiring to go off to college, it can be one of their biggest life decisions. There are a couple of factors to consider when applying to colleges. The following sponsored post is entitled, Applying to Colleges.

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The final year of high school has arrived or you are looking to begin a new career path. There are many steps for you to accomplish before you get your acceptance letter from the college of your choice. Here are a few to consider as you get started.

Look Into Your Grades

Contact your guidance counselor and ask for a copy of your transcript. If you have taken a standardized test, such as the PSAT, ACT, or SAT, find out the scores for those as well. You will need this information as you are looking into the colleges you are interested in. Many of these institutions require that you have a minimum grade point average to enroll. They will also ask for this data when you apply. However, they will only accept it from your high school or the testing corporation.

Evaluate Schools

Determine what you want to do after college and research schools that offer the majors required to accomplish this. If you are considering a position in the medical field, learn more about health degrees offered by these institutions and if they will help you get the job you want in the future. You should thoroughly investigate which college is best for you if you are looking for more traditional degrees as well. Set up a time to tour the campus and speak to an admissions counselor to get more information. However, with the precautions put into place with the Covid-19 virus, this might be done over the phone or by video chat.

Narrow Your Choices

Develop personal criteria along with the course of study that you plan to take to shorten the list of schools you have an interest in. This can include the cost to attend there, the scholarships that they offer, extracurricular activities that they may have, the number of students in the classroom, how far it is from your home, and other options. This should narrow down your selections to a manageable number to send your applications to.

Ask Your Current Instructors For Their Recommendation

When you send in your applications for admission, you will have to send in letters of recommendation from a few of your teachers as well. Consider ones that instruct classes that are similar to the major you plan to take or ones that you have a good rapport with. Ask for a time to meet with the teachers that you have chosen and make your request. You will need to provide an email or physical address to send the letter to. You might want to follow up with either the college or the instructor to ensure that they have been sent.

Write Your Essay

Many colleges and universities require that you submit an essay with your application. This document is normally a few hundred words about yourself. It gives the institution insight into how well you can write and what type of student you are. Start constructing this early in your senior year and ask others to edit it before you send it to the schools that you are interested in.

Why History Can Reshape And Politics

Two key focuses of my blog are Current Events and General Education. History is a core course in many curricula. It’s not always taken seriously, but it has the ability shape minds and the perceptions of whole populations of people. The following contributed post is entitled, Why History Can Reshape And Politics.

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History itself, written from the stories of towns, people and written into books, helps form new views and changes within communities and within people. We tend to separate history into oral and written. The first usually narrates the actions of invisible men, while the second tends to narrate the clichés of prominent men in order not to be forgotten. The muse of history is considered to be Klio, daughter of Zeus and Memorial. Its name comes from the ancient Greek verb close, which means I narrate or make something known. According to Nietzsche, from the birth of Christ, the zero point of history, history as the truth of human life was detached from its essential character, fell into a linear record of events regardless of the unfolding of life, but also of the future of man. Life began to degenerate, from the moment people stopped associating history with life and vital action. The famous German thinker is by no means against history, on the contrary he argues that historical knowledge is valuable, as long as we know how to use it, so that it serves life and offers outlets to promote its security.

Photo: Unsplash

The Mayor of Irvington NJ has learned all too well some incredible political lessons from both history and D. Bilal Beasley who taught him the possibility of change. So why do we learn so much from history and from books when these experiences have not directly affected us ourselves? Well, that is because that we do learn from other people’s mistakes and not always from our own, because of the effect it may have on us indirectly. This is seen throughout black history.

Philosophers argue that humans, unlike prehistoric animals, can not learn to forget, since their past experiences follow them every step of the way and often act as an obstacle to their subsequent evolution. To define the limits within which the oblivion of the past occurs, we must avoid making history the undertaker of the present, we must know exactly how great is the plastic power of an individual or a people, a power that helps him to transformed by incorporating the past and the foreign, replacing the lost, and reshaping from within the broken forms. In this way, the ahistorical and the historical are considered equally necessary for the “hygiene of life” of an individual, a people and a culture.

Undoubtedly, our age is superior in terms of knowledge of the past. Psychoanalysis itself has highlighted both individually and collectively the need to study the past, as it provides us with a measure of the speed and dynamics of our own movement. In the psychoanalytic process the subject is historicized, he writes his own history, he subscribes to the present conversing with his past in view of the future. If we think about it, culture is nothing more than transforming involuntary and instinctive action into possibility, after all. So yes we do learn from our history books, our choices and those around us, but the more we read, the more we immerse ourselves into possible change.

How To Gain A Career In Special Education Teaching

Two of the focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and General Education. In important part of the education sector is Special Education. There will always be a need for Special Education teachers and their valuable skills. The following contributed post is entitled, How To Gain A Career In Special Education Teaching.

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Image Credit Pixabay.com License CC0

Special education teachers play an essential role in the education system. They help and support children with a wide variety of different mental and physical needs to ensure that they get the maximum benefit from their education.

Special education teachers support children with differing needs including dyslexia, hearing and visual impairments, autism, and emotional disturbance. It can be a very challenging role, however, if you are interested in this career, it can also be very rewarding in many respects.

This type of teacher can often be found in the classroom supporting children on a one-to-one basis, however, they may sometimes teach whole classes.

In this article, we’ll discuss the role of a special education teacher and how you can get a career in this area.

What Skills Are Required

First and foremost, when looking for a career as a special educator you will need to demonstrate excellent communication skills. This is so that educators are able to interact effectively with students, parents, and other educators. Being able to communicate with students with very specific needs is essential. That means that they must be patient listeners who are able to get the message across as required.

In addition to communication skills, you will also need good IT skills and the ability to keep accurate records of each and every student’s progress. Technology will also come into play when it comes to helping students access the technology required within their education as well as any study support aids that they may need.

You will need to have a good understanding of the specific special needs of the students that you are teaching. Knowing specifically how to communicate in a positive way can be learned, but having the patience to deliver education in this way takes the right personal skills.

For teachers working with hearing impaired, they will need to know how to communicate using sign language.

Above all else, special education teachers need to have a positive and encouraging demeanor. They need to be creative thinkers with flexibility and the ability to motivate and inspire all of their students while helping build confidence and encourage learning. They also need to be resilient. There may be times when teaching special needs students can be challenging.

What Training Will Be Required

The type of qualifications will vary depending on where you are applying to become a special education teacher. In the United States, special educators are required to hold a license in addition to their qualifications.

You will need to at least have a bachelor’s level degree in special education in order to be considered for licensing. You may need a master’s degree in some areas.

In addition to a degree, you may need a qualification such as Dyslexia Professional Development and Dyslexia Training or other specific additional courses relating to a certain aspect of special needs education. This might be additional training delivering education to visually impaired students, or managing and teaching students with behavioral issues.

Because there are always developments in this field, training is often ongoing and you may be encouraged to keep engaging in your personal and professional development throughout your career. This may mean regular training days, or it could mean taking a part-time course alongside your work.

What Are The Alternative Career Options?

If the classroom setting is not for you, there are other options for helping others while making use of the skills and qualifications that you might have gained for working in the special education sector.

Because the special educator role can be very mentally and physically demanding, it is not uncommon for people to change lanes in their careers as they progress so that they can continue putting their hard-earned skills to good use in a different setting.

The types of jobs that are available with this skillset might include management level roles in special educational needs schools, recreational therapists, or occupational therapist.

A recreational therapist will have obtained a degree in recreational therapy or something very similar. This type of therapist will work with people who have cognitive, emotional, and physical disabilities. As part of their job roles, they will assess those that they work with and create and implement training plans and programs. They may use activities such as art, music, sport, and theater in beneficial and therapeutic ways.

An occupational therapist will have obtained a master’s level qualification in a related subject. Occupational therapists will treat those who are disabled or injured through the use of various different types of therapy.

Top Ways to Support Your Child with Remote Learning

Two of the focuses of my blog are Current Events and General Education. The Coronavirus/Covid-19 Crisis/Pandemic has adversely affected the educations of children across the world. Due to the pandemic, children have been forced in remote learning. Many parents/guardians have been unprepared for this change and have had to also adapt on the fly. The following contributed post is entitled, Top Ways to Support Your Child with Remote Learning.

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The coronavirus pandemic continues to get more serious, prompting closures of businesses and schools. Schools across the country have either ended the academic year or switched to online learning.

For many children, online learning is a new experience. Parents also have an extra burden, making sure their kids learn in the best environment.

Here are tips to help your child focus during distance learning:

#1: Create a designated learning space

Your child will work best in a comfortable, dedicated space that’s devoted to their studies. It can be their room, the living room, or the kitchen counter.

Talk to your child about where they’re the most comfortable studying. It may take some time for them to figure that out, so let them stay in different spaces until they find their designated study space.

Remove all distractions from your child’s learning area. Turn off the TV, limit their use of devices, and stow away their toys. Make sure they sit in a comfortable chair and give them easy access to school supplies. If they’re taking music lessons like piano, make sure the computer is accessible to the musical instrument.

#2: Set a schedule

Children work best when they maintain a routine. Figure out what’s the best time for them to learn. While some kids work best in the morning, others focus better in the afternoon or evening.

Once you’ve determined the best learning time, set a study schedule. Fit in breaks between study sessions so your kids can maintain focus. Encourage them to get up, go on walks, and move around, so they’re not sedentary.

#3: Encourage interaction

Your child will feel the effects of being away from friends. Aside from letting them talk on social media or text messaging, schedule a video playdate. You can speak to other parents to set up a video call so your kids can hang out with each other.

Stay in touch with fellow parents as well. Talk to them and share best practices on how your children learn. Ask if they need help as well.

#4: Stay in touch with the teachers

Maintain open, frequent communication with your child’s teachers. Doing so helps your kid stay on track with their learning. Reach out to the teachers if you or your child have questions and concerns about the mode of learning or a part in the lesson.

Don’t forget to share your kid’s successes. Talk to the teachers when your child reaches goals or makes positive changes. Your kid will appreciate the positive feedback not just from you but also from their teachers.

#5: Support your child’s behavioral and emotional needs

Set a reward system to motivate children to complete their work. Tell them they did a great job after completing a school day. Adding a checkmark or star sticker on their assignment also goes a long way into motivating your child.

It’s normal for your child to struggle with schoolwork. They are adjusting to the new normal, and they might experience anxiety and stress. Give them time to calm down and help them cope with their feelings.

The rapid closure of schools because of the coronavirus has forced children to change their study environment. Work with your child, fellow parents, and teachers to create the best environment for focusing and learning.

Here Are The Careers To Consider In The Wake Of The Coronavirus

Three of the focuses of my blog are Current Events, Career Discussions and General Education. In the working world, the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Crisis/Pandemic has created an environment where some careers and jobs have risen to the forefront. Going forward, it behooves individuals to consider careers that will thrive under circumstances like these where the Coronavirus has decimated whole sectors. The following contributed post is entitled, Here Are The Careers To Consider In The Wake Of The Coronavirus.

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The coronavirus is going to have a massive impact on the world economy and evidence of this is already apparent. For instance, you might have heard that the unemployment rate in America right now is skyrocketing. Ultimately, this is going to lead to a massive flood of people entering the job market, once the furlough period ends. It’s important that if you are one of these individuals, you are pursuing the right careers. In this brave new world, certain careers are going to be in greater supply than others. So, let’s take a look at some examples.

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Work From Home Positions

Businesses are definitely going to be keen to hire employees who can work and operate from home. There are numerous examples of companies like this. For instance, you might want to create content for a living. If you are keen to do this, then a work from home position is great. You can get a strong income and ensure that you don’t have to worry about the Monday morning commute. Of course, certain businesses are likely to become more flexible about which workers they allow working from home. An example of this would be customer service businesses and call handling companies. With the right tech and the correct setup, there’s no reason why these people can’t work from home.

Tech Operations

As the world shifts to an economy where significantly more people are working from home, it’s going to be important to ensure that businesses can remain connected. This leaves another opportunity wide open and that’s any industry that is required to ensure that these connections can be set up the right way. For instance, if you are involved in setting up cloud servers, then you’re definitely going to be in high demand over the next few years. Businesses will be keen to ensure that they can send and access data and files without delay.

There are lots of opportunities for training on the market too. For instance, you can explore a solution like Flackbox. This will provide the right training you need to ensure that you’re a pro in this particular sector.

Logistics

Finally, it’s likely that there is going to be a higher demand for logistics businesses in the near future. So, whether you are setting up your own company or joining an existing business, this could be a fantastic opportunity. You just need to make sure that you are delivering a quality solution that your customers or clients can trust. Businesses failing to deliver a high standard are going to stick out like a sore thumb.

We hope this helps you understand some of the key steps that you can take to ensure that your career is on the right track in the wake of the coronavirus. Remember, it may seem bleak right now but there are going to be job opportunities on the market. There are going to be positions that need to be filled. You just need to make sure that you are finding the right choice for you.

5 Jobs For Tough People

Two key focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and General Education. Some careers and jobs are more well suited for certain types of individuals. There some jobs that are well suited only for ‘tough’ individuals. The following contributed post is entitled, 5 Jobs For Tough People.

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To do some jobs well, you have to be tough. Whether you’re working in the public eye or handling difficult and emotionally-sensitive conversations, there are some roles you can only do if you’ve got thick skin and aren’t afraid to disagree with people. Here are five jobs for tough people you might want to consider if you’re feeling brave and looking for a career path to suit your personality.

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1. Process Server
A process server gives people sensitive legal documentation, like eviction notices, summons, subpoenas, and divorce decrees. They can also perform skip tracing to locate individuals that have ‘skipped town’ and undertake financial investigations. You have to be tough to succeed in this industry as let’s face it, people don’t enjoy receiving court summons or being tracked down. If you think you can do it, though, it’s a generally well-compensated way to enter the legal profession.

2. Mortician
Being a mortician was ranked in the top three of the most challenging jobs in 2017. You have to work face to face with death every day while supporting the deceased’s family. The hours are long, and you’re in a dark room, but on the positive side, at least you get to give the person a proper send-off by cleaning, embalming and dressing them ahead of their funeral. You’ll also be making their family happy and providing dignity to the person who has died.

3. Roofer
A roofer has to brave heights, scaffolding, and long periods of the year without work. If you’re a roofer by trade, you might find that you have to diversify over the winter months where work is scarce and could be canceled last minute. You also have to be prepared to walk over precarious surfaces and have to invest in many construction training courses to ensure you are safe and secure when working. It’s the perfect career for people that love working outdoors and aren’t afraid of heights.

4. Corrections (Correctional) Officer
At a potentially over-crowded, understaffed prison, you’ll need to keep calm in a tension-fuelled environment while maintaining control of a prison population. Corrections officers consider the job challenging but rewarding, as they can help individuals improve their lives as part of their rehabilitation. The career path and daily tasks of Corrections (or Correctional) Officers depend on the type of prison you go into. As a career, it’s excellent for training and development as you gain firsthand experience of everything from conflict resolution to self-defense.

5. CEO
As a CEO, you might be responsible for the morale and productivity of thousands of employees, as well as the company’s future as a whole. An unsuccessful CEO is often quickly identified and replaced, so the pressure is on to drive the company to success. Although you’re financially rewarded, the most stressful CEO positions are often considered as the heads of Finance, Tech, or FinTech giants. You also have to make unpopular decisions about company restructuring, as the only people above you are the board.

If you’re tough, one of these career paths may be for you. You might want to enter the legal profession or want a career that allows you to work outside, but choosing one of the above jobs might be the challenge that you need in your life.

Mother’s Day 2020: What Mom Taught Me That Helped Me Through The Coronavirus Pandemic

Those of you who have read my content know that I’ve written blog posts for Mother’s Day since starting the Big Words Blog Site. As per usual, the links to my previous Mother’s Day pieces will be shared at the end of this piece. I thought of this piece, while driving back from New York State’s Capital Region as I was recently checking on my father. My Mom is quite cautious and wanted me to shelter in place as much as possible, but following her example, it was important for me to check on my old man during this Coronavirus/Covid-19 Crisis/Pandemic.

Before I get into the messages in this piece which I hope to keep short (by my standards), I want to tell any readers that while our country is looking to reopen shortly, and while infections by the Coronavirus are expected to fall off during the warm weather months, beware of a second wave. It’s predicted that when the cold winter months return, infections will as well. This blog post in some ways may in fact serve as a survival guide for some people who were unprepared for this first tsunami, and it may be helpful should there be future lockdowns and quarantines.

So in terms of Mother’s Day, as I drove back to Washington, DC recently, it occurred to me that my mother imparted some valuable nuggets in my life that helped me survive over the last two months since our country went into this lockdown. Among them are:

The Ability to Cook: In previous Mother’s Day blog posts, I discussed the home that my mother created for us. A part of that was the meals she prepared for us, ALL of which were prepared with her hands from scratch. Her ability to cook along with my natural curiosity resulted in my ability to cook. I often jokingly tell people that at an early age, I was in the kitchen trying to figure out how she made those scrambled eggs. In addition to picking up recipes of all kinds over the years, from other people and from cookbooks like those from Emeril Lagasse, there are quite a few of Mom’s recipes that I took with me when I left the house. There are secrets that I’m still collecting today, such as most recently how to steam the green beans and onions with enough flavor and succulence at the time of consumption. I’m saying all of this to say that when the lockdown started, I already knew how to cook, so I didn’t severely feel the bite of not being able to eat out. The ability to prepare your own food is a critical skill and if there is in fact a lull in the infections, I would encourage people to learn how to prepare as much of your own food possible. Also learn to prepare healthy foods that you can eat for days at a time and even store for later. That said, I’ve learned that not everyone can eat leftovers, but we learned to do so. Finally, cooking at home also saves you money and stretches your dollars out time-wise.

Personal Health: In addition to cooking, Mom was big on vitamins and even natural herbs and remedies. Likewise, as I was leaving Buffalo as our country was going deeper into the lockdown, she strongly encouraged me to start regularly taking Vitamin D which has therapeutic benefits for our immune systems. As I’ve been quarantining, I have in fact made Vitamin D a regular part of my daily diet and now Vitamin C as well. I shot videos on my science and technology YouTube channel about the benefits of both vitamins. Please check out those videos and my channel.

Education, Writing and Building: I give my mother a lot of credit for the blogging platform you’re reading this post on right now. Both parents stressed education at an early age, but it was my mother who insisted that me and my brother learn how word process with proper form at an early age. We also had a computer in the house when we were young, so she saw the wave of the future coming in the early- to mid-1980s. Social distancing and quarantining isn’t natural for human beings and hasn’t always been pleasant at times, but I’ve been fortunate to be able to be keep myself busy and my mind occupied, writing and publishing content. Just as my mother was able to turn her writing abilities into a business, I have as well, which I’ll describe shortly via written content here on the Big Words Blog Site and on my Big Discussions76 YouTube channel.

The Importance of Faith and Spirituality: Faith and spirituality can be a polarizing topic these days, but no matter how much you have or what you believe, it’s important to have it. Mom was always big on faith. When I go home to Buffalo, I try my best to get myself out of bed on Sunday mornings to attend her church’s services. Just before the lockdown set in, I was at home in Buffalo for two and a half weeks and I attended the last church service at the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Buffalo where the members, like most churches, were able to gather for the last time in a while. Before releasing the congregation, the Pastor read Psalm 91 to us, which was very, very powerful for what was taking place at the time. That scripture is now forever etched into my memory.

So, as I have lots and lots to do, I’m going to stop this here. In the Black community we sometimes dwell on what we didn’t have when we were growing up . We can inevitably get caught looking at what our peers had within our community and in other ethnic groups/cultures. It’s natural in a way, but it’s also important to acknowledge what you were given from your parent or guardian. What did your mother teach that helped you through this challenging time? What might you use if this crisis or another one comes back around?

Oh by the way, fortunately I was able to craft this Mother’s Day blog post pretty quickly and concisely. Right on schedule, Father’s Day is coming up next month and I’ve thought of another really good money-related story involving my father and me which involves a very, very important lesson, so look for it. And in closing, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the mothers out there.

Thank you for reading this blog post. If you enjoyed this one, you might also enjoy:

Father’s Day 2018: Dad’s doctor and his lawyer and discussion on careers
Two well-behaved boys left to figure things out on their own: reflections on growing up ‘Blue Pill’
Father’s Day 2017: reflections on some of Dad’s money and life lessons
Mother’s Day 2018: Memories of my grandmothers
Mother’s Day 2017: one of my mother’s greatest gifts, getting engaged, and avoiding my own personal fiscal cliff

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive all the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. Lastly follow me on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, on Instagram at @anwaryusef76, and at the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

How the Future of Education May Develop Online

Two of the focuses of my blog are General Education and Technology. While the Coronavirus/Covid-19 Pandemic/Crisis has created tremendous uncertainty for human health and our ways of life in general, it has also called into question the long-term education landscape. It’s been speculated that education will now move towards an increased digital paradigm. The following guest post is entitled, How the Future of Education May Develop Online.

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We have reached an age where advanced technology has become so deeply rooted in our daily lives and plays a major part in many of the core aspects of society. From recreation to work, everything is an amalgamation of celluloid, pixels, and wires. Another sector that has been steadily seeing its new face in technology is education.

These days, not only is tech integrated into lessons and curriculums, but it has also become a mode of learning in itself and a platform for teaching. From kindergarten to senior high school to post-graduate studies, online study has become the norm for millions of students in the new generation. This may beg the question, “is online schooling the future of education?”

The Virtual Shift

Learning toward different levels of education is available online, and some courses cater to shorter curriculums and specific topics alone. That is because, with the digital system, students have access to a vast library of different media and resources at their fingertips while being able to communicate with teachers and other students remotely.

Being able to share work in real-time and have hands-on activities also hasn’t been removed. Streaming platforms and cloud office applications have removed this limitation from students, no matter where they are as long as they have internet access. Even for those who aren’t in fully online schooling programs, data revealed that physical institutions are holding more and more online classes to cater to distance students. The same study even showed that over half of the students who still study on-campus also have at least one distance class they are taking.

As student sentiment gears toward the virtual space, institutions are also starting to put in resources toward making this work because it can be more cost-efficient and resolves a lot of the issues that come with having to go on-site. Operationally, this is beneficial as location no longer hinders potential enrollees and employees from joining a school. Both instructors and students can work remotely and no longer have to deal with commute issues, making the shift an attractive one in terms of finance and logistics.

Access Online

A major factor that is making online studying more lucrative is its accessibility. Different teaching and learning styles are catered to, and the flexibility in time allows people who have other obligations to be able to pursue an education.

One of the biggest things that also make it accessible is in terms of finances. Because the costs are different, you can often find an institution that offers online courses for a more affordable tuition fee. For this reason, different levels of financial status can still look into reliable schooling that is credited.

It can cater to those who live far, with barriers are removed and culture shock is lessened. For these reasons, it continues to grow each year as more and more individuals flock to the new educational sphere that they can pursue comfortably. With the recent health crisis in full boom, the world has mostly adopted this system and has seen its merits as people must continue to learn and go about their work from home. With all of those factors essentially making everybody shift to digital means, the future may just be up on a screen.

Careers For People Whose Goal Is Maximum Happiness

Two focuses of my blog are Career Discussions and General Education. There are many, many aspects to choosing a career and the amount of pay is just one of them. One’s overall level of happiness matters too and probably the most important factor. The following contributed post is entitled, Careers For People Whose Goal Is Maximum Happiness.

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A lot of people go into particular careers for money. But for some, that’s not the driving factor. Happiness is more important.

Commentators often link careers with stress and hardship. But you’d be surprised how many options there are out there that are great for your happiness. Not only do you get paid for doing honest work, but you also enjoy yourself at the same time. How many people do you know can say that?

So what are these elusive careers?

Let’s take a look.

Researcher

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Companies and individuals often hire professional researchers to look into a topic and produce a report that they can use to make decisions. Firms, for instance, might hire a freelance professional to investigate a historical document or develop a report on the future of their industry.

For those partaking in these careers, the financial and personal rewards can be enormous. Experienced researchers can earn hundreds of dollars per hour for their work. And many also love what they do, pushing boundaries and discovering new things that people didn’t know before.

Barber

Hairdressers and barbers have always been some of the happiest people. And who can blame them? After you finish barber school, you join a salon and spend all day chatting to customers about their lives. Most professionals learn a considerable amount throughout the day while cutting hair. Plus, there are ample opportunities for progression.

Authors

Becoming an author is a high-risk profession. A lot of people who go into it only earn a modest wage. With that said, you don’t become a writer for the money. You do it for the love of your craft. You go into it in the full knowledge that you probably won’t hit the big time. But that’s okay – you have the freedom to go wherever your creative spirit takes you.

Operating Engineers

Operating engineers are people who pilot vehicles like front-end loaders, bulldozers, and so on. Typically you find them on construction sites, doing all the heavy lifting. What’s more, these guys love their jobs. There is something deeply satisfying about taking control of a large vehicle and bending it to your will.

Psychologists

A lot of people find immense satisfaction in probing the workings of the mind and trying to figure out what makes it tick. Understanding your fellow human being can be a rewarding and exciting career path.

The main work of psychologists today is in diagnosing, characterizing, and treating diseases. In a sense, therefore, it is a kind of medical profession. You’re attempting to uncover psychological issues so that you can fix them.

Photographer

Photographers, like authors and composers, are artists. Their job is to find ways to best capture reality and present their snaps to their clients in a way that thrills them.

Photographers do all sorts of things. It’s not just weddings, but also landscapes, professional portraits, and family photos. Product photography is also growing. Businesses need people who can show off their wares in a flattering light.

Damien Foster discusses playing basketball beyond Buffalo Traditional and the Yale Cup

“I think playing in Buffalo alone prepares you for the world, if you’re lucky enough to be able to grow up in the City of Buffalo!”

This interview is the second part of my interview with Buffalo basketball legend Damien Foster, the other half of the Buffalo Traditional dynamic duo from the 1990s. In part one we discussed his background, and the run he and his teammates went on at Buffalo Traditional High School in the early- to- mid 1990s in Western New York’s city league, the ‘Yale Cup’ and in postseason play. In part two we discussed his basketball career after Buffalo Traditional at the college level. The pictures in this post were shared courtesy of Damien himself and from an archive of Section V and Section VI basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones.

Anwar Dunbar: So pretty much after your freshman year, you guys had ‘bullseyes’ on your backs (no pun intended). Everyone was looking for Buffalo Traditional, but were there teams you guys looked forward to playing? I know there was a ‘thriller’ against Bennett High School in your junior year. Adrian Baugh (pictured below in blue) posts about that sometimes on Facebook. Did you have that game circled? I know Bennett was supposed to be pretty good that year with players like Mike Carter and Monty Montgomery.

Damien Foster: Well, in our junior year we lost to those guys. I think we took them for granted. I have that tape and I watch that game. I watch a lot of the games. I’ve got all the games starting from my freshman year. We really weren’t focused on that game and we really didn’t have a game plan, so we really didn’t know what to expect. We knew they were good, but we felt like we were going to go in, beat them and take care of business. When the ball went up, those guys were focused! Mike Carter was focused! The infamous ‘spin move’ – everyone kept saying he was spinning to the hole. Mike was a big guy! He was a football player so once he got you on his hip, it was hard to contain him. So that game caught us off guard and it really sparked the rivalry between us and Bennett.

Losing that game in front of all those people – I want to say that there were 5,000 to 6,000 people at Erie Community College’s (ECC) gym at the time, it was very embarrassing. Those guys rubbed it in our faces, and it was one of those things like where you say, ‘Wow.’ They definitely had a bullseye on our calendar for next year. I was absolutely looking forward to that game and I couldn’t wait for it in my senior year. You could tell the difference between our junior and senior year – the focus was just so different. We were locked in my senior year. There was no way they were going to beat us again. Some of their players didn’t care for me – Monty Montgomery didn’t care for me. I didn’t care for him and that was a rivalry. It was what it was, but yes, that game for sure.

I looked forward to playing against Jeremiah Wilkes and Burgard High School (pictured). I also looked forward to playing against Kensington High School, which had Kilroy Jackson and Edmund Battle. You couldn’t just go into Kensington and be soft. Edmund Battle and those guys would talk crap to you and try to intimidate you. Me? I liked it because it got me going and those were the games I looked forward to playing – the big games against guys who talked crap – guys who thought they were tough. It was definitely Kensington, Burgard and Bennett. Those were the teams.

AD: Now, I might not put this in print, but did you and Monty have some kind of run in at a summer league?

DF: No. Monty moved here from California and he was on his California ‘swag’. He talked about how he was going to do this and do that. He looked at us like, ‘Who are these guys?’ I’m looking at him saying, ‘Numbers don’t lie!’ And there were some words that were said over the summer when he first got here. And then when they won the game in my junior year, they really ran with it so that’s kind of what got the fire underneath me for my team.

AD: Well they had a bit of a ‘reckoning’ when postseason play started because they got disqualified in the Class B bracket, while you guys went on to Glens Falls and then back again. Anyway, your best game, was it the final game where you got the MVP or was it something else?

DF: For me I would say it was the state championship final game in my senior year. My shooting percentage was pretty high. I scored more points in other games, but it was just more so the timing of when the points came because it was the state championship. I won the “Most Valuable Player Award” and that was huge.

AD: I also asked Jason this. I asked him about the last shot of games, and he said it was never a concern because your team were usually so far ahead of your opponents (laughing). In terms of the volume of shots, were you always able to find a balance?

DF: You’ve got two ‘A-type’ personalities, two ‘alpha-dogs’ out there – of course you’re going to bump heads a little bit. Me and Jay (pictured with Damien), we were close, so we knew how to work through it. It was never a concern about who would take the last shot because we were both comfortable with whoever shot the ball. If one of us ‘squared up’, both of us had a good chance of the shot going in. We both had great shots, so for me, I never had a problem with him taking the last shot and he never had a problem with me taking the last shot. It was more like just make it and get the win.

Our chemistry was always natural from our playing together at the Boys Club, learning the game together and coming up together. We were cut from the same cloth. Teammates are going to argue. You’re brothers and you’re around each other all the time – the locker room, practice, school. When we were on the court it was a family and it was all about taking care of business.

AD: Of your four years, was one your favorite or did you enjoy them all together?

DF: I enjoyed all four years, but my senior year was my favorite because we won everything. We won the Yale Cup, the states and the federation. It was just a great year. There was a lot of winning and when you’re winning, everybody is happy. You’re being remembered, you’re writing your legacy and you’re winning at the same time. It was my best year, but then you hate for it to come to an end because you know it’s your last year. The years go by so fast.

AD: With your team coming in together, was Jason your closest teammate? Or were you tight with some of the other guys?

DF: LaVar Frasier and I were close, and Damaon White and I were also close. Jason and I came up in the Boys Club and didn’t live too far from each other. I was probably closest with those two guys in my senior year, but again me and LaVar Frasier were close and are still close today (seated to the right below with Jimmy Birden and Adrian Baugh). We talk all the time.

AD: Was there anything you saw during your four years that surprised you? I know one of your teammates got murdered in your freshman year, Cameron Calvin.

DF: That was huge. We’d just won the Wilson Tournament. The bus dropped us off at the school and everyone went their own way. Some parents picked up teammates, while some guys caught the bus. I just remember getting a phone call the next morning from one of my teammates saying, ‘Man did you hear about what happened to Cameron?’ I said, ‘Cameron? Last night?’ They said he got shot and murdered and I couldn’t believe it. I felt like no way.

We were just playing together and it kind of haunted me. Growing up on the eastside you hear stories, but I’ve never experienced it with someone so close to me getting murdered like that. So that was very detrimental to the team and we rallied together and around his parents, his brother and sister. And we all wore No. 41 armbands in remembrance of him. We wore the black bands and with the black socks and we tried to mimic Michigan’s “Fab Five” back in the day. Everybody was doing it. That brought us together even more and we really became family when that happened.

AD: Yes, that was right before you guys played us (laughing). Academics kept a lot of Yale Cup players from playing beyond high school. What kind of student were you when you were at Buffalo Traditional?

DF: I was a B+ student. My grades were pretty good because it was instilled in me early on what a ‘student-athlete’ is supposed to be. My parents didn’t play with my grades. I was just inspired to play the great game of basketball. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to play if my grades slipped, just knowing that alone made me work even harder in the classroom. There was no way I wasn’t going to be eligible to play the game knowing what I had to do to set records. So, I never had a problem with school. I liked going to school.

AD: When did the colleges start recruiting you?

DF: The colleges started recruiting me my sophomore year.

AD: Wow.

DF: I started getting letters every day. It was pretty much from every school and conference in the country except for Duke. Those letters started coming in like crazy. A lot of that had to do with the fact that we were so active during the summer.

AD: Well, that was also before social media. Was that before or after you guys started playing big-time AAU or was it just word of mouth?

DF: It was after the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) stuff because you must remember that we started it after my freshman year. We were in France competing with their professional teams. We beat two of their pro teams, so every summer that was the regimen, AAU basketball and we were traveling. Mickey Walker was our Head Coach out of Syracuse, and it was called the “USDBL” which stood for the “Upstate Developmental Basketball League”. That was huge. Just being at the ABCD Camp, you’re playing in front of head coaches. Everybody was going to the Nike Camp, but ABCD was where it was at. You had all the head coaches in the stands and you’re playing against hundreds of other kids. That clearly helped with all the college recruiting and the letters, just getting your name out there and competing.

Don’t get me wrong. Here you’re doing good in the city, but you’ve got to play AAU ball. And like you said there was no Facebook, none of that internet stuff. This was real stuff. You had to be who you said you were (laughing)! You had to go out and prove yourself, drop some numbers and beat somebody.

AD: You initially went to Boston College, right?

DF: Yes, I signed my letter of intent for Boston College in 1996. We had a great team in my freshman year, and we won the Big East Championship.

AD: So, you were playing under Head Coach, Jim O’Brien. I’d gotten one of the Athlon Big East preseason books that year and remember seeing your picture. You were on the team with Danya Abrams right? – Keenan Jordan and those guys. Was James ‘Scoonie’ Penn on that team too?

DF: Yes, Scoonie Penn was on that team. That was my point guard! That was my boy!

AD: What made you choose Boston College and what did you major in?

DF: I wanted to play in the Big East Conference. Dave Spiller was an assistant at the time on Coach O’ Brien’s staff. He was from Buffalo. I also met Danya Abrams at an AAU tournament. I majored in Communications.

AD: Did you stay at Boston College?

DF: I stayed at Boston College for two years and left after my second year. Jim O’ Brien left after my freshman year and went to Ohio State – he left on bad terms with the university. Danya Abrams, Keenan Jourdan and Stephen Thomas – all those guys were seniors when I was a freshman. We had a lot of seniors on that team, and Coach O’ Brien was trying to bring in some players to get it going. These guys he was trying to bring in were from Boston and were good guards and good players. They passed their SATs and everything, and the school ‘shut them down’. They basically told them that their high school curricula weren’t good enough. That was the second time they did that to O’ Brien’s recruits, so he was fed up with it. To make a long story short, he left the university and sued them. He took Scoonie Penn with him to Ohio State.

AD: Yes, I remember him leaving and Scoonie Penn transferring, but not all the legal stuff.

DF: He asked me if I wanted to go. I didn’t want to go because I played very limited minutes in my freshman year because we had so many seniors. I didn’t want to go and sit out a year. Everyone was leaving and I stayed.

Al Skinner came in from Rhode Island. He played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) with Dr. J and all those guys. When he came in it was so late in the recruiting period. Everyone had signed their recruiting letters. He brought in about four guys who I think were going to Division II schools. There were five of us left from the previous year’s team. Antonio Granger and Dwayne Woodward were getting ready to be seniors and I was in my sophomore year. We also had Kostas Maglos who was from Greece. That five who were there was who started. It was my sophomore year and I remember we were in the Maui Invitational Tournament, because I ran into Duke’s Elton Brand in Hawaii and we talked about that game from my junior year (laughing) (see part one of this interview).

We were getting ready to match up with Arizona which was No. 1 in the country with Mike Bibby at the time. They’d just won the championship. Right before the game was going to start, Al Skinner came up to me and said, ‘Hey I’m going to start Kenny Harley in front of you this game. Just be ready to come off the bench and play!’ It was a last-minute change, so I said, ‘Wow, okay whatever.’ The game came and he never put me in the game at all (laughing). So, then everyone was wondering what was going on with me. You go from starting to not playing at all. I had no explanation and had to figure out what was going on.

From that point on it seemed like this guy just didn’t want to play me. I couldn’t understand it and I had to figure out what was going on. I figured Jim O’ Brien was suing the university and I was caught up in the mix. I was O’ Brien’s youngest recruit and the other guys were getting ready to graduate. I wasn’t Skinner’s recruit – I understand how the game goes. I realized that it was probably time for me to go. I sat down and talked to him after the season and we just weren’t getting anywhere. In terms of transferring, it was between Duquesne and Marquette, the University at Buffalo (UB) and Canisius. UB had just gone into a new conference that year.

The only reason I came home and went to UB was because I needed to get somewhere where I’d play immediately because I’d lost the time. So, I get to UB, sit out my first year and the next year I’m ready to go. I shook the rust off a little bit. I think I had 38 points against Manhattan. That was the game before the big North Carolina game. We had North Carolina at home. And then the same thing happens. There was just a whole bunch of nonsense going on behind the scenes with the team and the coach at the time, Coach Cohane.

AD: Tim Cohane, yes, I remember him.

DF: Some of the guys on the team didn’t like Cohane. He was a military guy and he kept it real. He’d let you know if he liked you or if he didn’t. I respected that about him. If you don’t want to play me, let me know so I can go someplace else. He just had that aura about him and some of the guys on the team didn’t really care for that. Believe it or not we had a talented team at UB. There were a couple of guys from New York City who came down with Coach Rock Eisenberg. He was helping Coach Cohane. Things basically went ‘left’. The players on the team said if Coach Cohane wasn’t fired before the North Carolina game, they weren’t playing. They were going to boycott that game.

AD: Wow.

DF: It was just beyond crazy to me and I didn’t know what was going on. They had an NCAA investigation going on at the time and they were investigating Coach Cohane about being in the gym. In the offseason, coaches are not allowed in the gym. They were trying to get down to the bottom of it regarding players seeing him in the gym. The NCAA sent its investigators to interrogate us. They brought us into these small rooms one by one to see if our stories matched up. I’d never seen Coach Cohane in the gym because I was too busy playing basketball. The other players’ stories didn’t go like that. They were making up stuff saying, ‘Yes, we saw him in the gym!’

There were only three of us who said we didn’t see him in the gym, and the NCAA came back and said, ‘We’re going to give you 24 hours to recant your story because it’s not lining up with the rest of the team! Basically, if you don’t change it, you could lose your scholarship!’ They said we could go to jail. They were really trying to intimidate us and extort information out of us. So, they interviewed me for a second time. I never changed my story and to make a long story short, the players boycotted the game and they ended up firing Coach Cohane before the game. They brought Reggie in right before the North Carolina game. He came in and that was a whole other story. So, I basically went through four college coaches in four years.

AD: Wow.

DF: And it hurt me a little bit.

AD: Well, yes, it hurts most players because you don’t have that continuity, and the new coach has a new way of doing things, and he’s probably going to bring in some of his own players. So, who was the last coach?

DF: Reggie Witherspoon (pictured).

AD: I have one last question about Al Skinner. Was he basically trying to ‘clean house’ and wipe the slate clean?

DF: Basically. He brought in his own players and they were nowhere near my level skill-wise. You have a certain time period where you sign with Division I schools and then you have a time period where you can sign with Division II schools. These guys signed with Division II schools and at the last minute, he brought them with him to Boston College. It was one of those things where some of the players were asking me, ‘Yo. Why are you sitting down? Why are you not playing?’ When you’ve got your teammates asking those questions, something isn’t right. So, I guess it was just a political thing.

He just didn’t want to play me. I just wasn’t his recruit. I didn’t understand it, but I had to understand how that political game was being played. Again, O’ Brien was suing the university and I was his recruit. He was at war with Boston College and I was still there. It was the same thing at UB. Cohane sued UB and the NCAA. We recently lost the lawsuit against the NCAA a few years back. My name is on affidavits and all kinds of crap. What they did to him wasn’t right. It was crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that. The NCAA is an institution and you’re not going to win against them (laughing). I think Jerry Tarkanian, “Tark the Shark” from UNLV, he had a lawsuit against them too. No one wins against them (laughing).

AD: Well, that’s interesting. I never knew all of that happened. I remember Jim O’ Brien going to Ohio State and Scoonie Penn following him to Columbus. And then they had Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd in the backcourt, but I never knew all of that happened and –.

DF: In hindsight, looking back maybe I should’ve left because it would’ve been me, Scoonie Penn and Michael Redd. I thought I was making the right decision by staying and –.

AD: Well, you also think that when you’re going to a school, you’re going to be there for the next four years playing for that particular coach for the entire time and –.

DF: Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s the reason you sign up and that’s why you’re there – because of that coaching staff. You say, ‘I’m here for four years with you guys!’. That’s not always the case. I had four different coaches in four years (laughing). That was crazy.

AD: Did you finish at UB?

DF: Yes, I finished at UB.

AD: Did your team ever come close to winning the conference tournament and making the NCAA Tournament?

DF: Not at UB. Like I said, we had a very talented team, and when that coaching change happened that was Reggie’s first run with a Division I school, so he was learning. He was learning how to maneuver and practice, and it just wasn’t there for him at that time. He couldn’t relate to players and players didn’t like him. I’d known Reggie since I was in the seventh grade.

He had an AAU team called ‘Ace’. Ryan Cochrane played on his team and I think Jason played a couple of times with his team. Reggie was a workaholic. He was going to work you, and if you didn’t have that mindset to come to work and be ready to run, you might get a little frustrated. A lot of the players didn’t know that about him, so they didn’t know what they were in for.

They got Cohane out and now they’ve got Reggie, and he’s running them like dogs – even before he introduced himself to them. They didn’t take that too well. It definitely rubbed off on the court in terms of winning. We weren’t on the same page, so we won some games, but no tournaments. When I was at Boston College in the NCAA Tournament, we went out to Utah and lost in the second round. We also went to the Big East Championship in my freshman year – I’ve got a championship ring from that. But Reggie literally went from coaching at ECC to coaching us at UB in the North Carolina game.

AD: Wow.

DF: And we were beating North Carolina. We were winning in the first half.

AD: Who was on that team?

DF: In addition to me, we had Lou Campbell, Theory Harris, Davis Lawrence, Maliso Libomi, who was from France and we had Nikolai Alexeev and Alexei Vasiliev (our point guard) who were from Russia. We had a talented team. We could’ve beaten North Carolina. Reggie decided to play everybody on the bench down to the last man. The rotation just wasn’t there. Again, you’re not coaching at ECC anymore, you’re coaching at a Division I school. I was blown away by some of the stuff that I saw, but it was a learning experience. If you let it some of it would deter you.

AD: Was that one of Antawn Jamison’s North Carolina teams? Or was that one of Joseph Forte and Brendan Haywood’s team?

DF: We played against Joseph Forte in my senior year. We played them twice.

AD: Was it Ed Cota’s senior season?

DF: Yes, it was Ed Cota’s North Carolina team.

AD: What did you do after college? Did you play any professional basketball like Jason or Tim Winn?

DF: I had a tryout with Cleveland. They told me to come up for free agency camp. I came up. They took too many players in the draft, so they cancelled the camp (laughing). I also got an offer from Israel. I want to say that Trevor Ruffin was over there playing at the time. I got with an agent and signed, and it was just bad over there at the time with the wars and the fighting over the land. I want to say that Trevor was on his way back – I think he was literally at the embassy. I just didn’t feel like the money was worth it – what I was signing for at the time, so I didn’t go over to Israel and I started doing real estate from there.

AD: Damien, it sounds like you guys were relentless with your development. For any youngster who wants to play basketball, what would you tell them?

DF: The game has evolved so much since I played. These guys have got all the tools available to them – a lot of stuff. They have online tutorials, videos – when I was –.

AD: They have trainers like Jason (Rowe).

DF: Yes, they’ve got personal trainers and they’ve got a lot of stuff that’s available to them. My advice to the youth is to just develop a good work habit. Develop great work habits all season and away from the court. Work on your game every day and you’ve just got to push yourself. You’ve got to practice and play when nobody else is. That’s just how it goes. I believe in the old-fashioned road work, so you get up in the morning at 5 am. At 6 am you’re running while the air is thin – you get your laps in. You’re putting up 500 shots a day. At the Boys Club, we would shoot at least 500 a day. You just have to work and build your confidence. Confidence is the key! Basketball is about confidence! Just be relentless and make up your mind about your goals. Set goals and if you work to achieve your goals daily, you’ll be fine. You’ll be good!

AD: You and Jason made it beyond Buffalo Traditional and the Yale Cup. There were a lot of players who didn’t make it though. In terms of facilities and budget, the Yale Cup underfunded and a lot of players didn’t make it to the next level. Do you have any thoughts on the old Yale Cup? You guys won most of the time (laughing), but do you have any thoughts looking back on how the league could’ve been better?

DF: Well, my understanding back in the day is that the Yale Cup didn’t even have the three-point line (laughing). Curtis Aiken (of Bennett) and those guys played when there was no three-point line. You play in some of the gyms in some of these schools and it was like you were playing in a bowling alley –.

AD: Like South Park or Performing Arts (laughing).

DF: With a track above it – yes, South Park. Today it has changed a little bit from that, but the city schools could always use a boost. I hate the fact that they shut Buffalo Traditional down – that’s a whole other thing.

AD: Yes, it’s now Performing Arts.

DF: They’re redoing the gyms in some of the schools. It’s good because our kids need that. They need to have the best stuff. You walk into the suburban schools and they had the best of the best.

AD: Yes, those schools had three large gyms. They had ‘Modified’ teams and Junior Varsity teams at every school, state of the art weight rooms, a track out back. And that’s a testament to how good you guys were to have accomplished what you accomplished without all those things.

DF: Yes, I think it was just coming from where we came from, our backgrounds and just wanting it. We wanted it! I know I did, and I wanted it bad. Just growing up in a single parent home, you want so much for your Mom. It was one of those things where I felt like I was going to do everything. I was going to be the man of the house. I’m going to do everything for my Mom! You deal with what you deal with. You try to make the best out of it, and you try to make it work for you. A lot of our games were played at ECC because of the schools we were going into. Our gym at Buffalo Traditional didn’t have the corner line, and everybody was coming to our games, so they had to be at ECC. You just must push through.

AD: And when those game were at ECC, did they push them to the nighttime?

DF: Yes, they were night games.

AD: That makes a big difference, because most of our games in the Yale Cup were right after school. So, you didn’t have a lot of time to get your head right. In the private and suburban schools, their games were at nighttime. Okay, last question. What did playing at Traditional and in college teach you about life and success?

DF: Ah, man, it’s the perfect parody to life. It teaches you discipline. For me, it taught me that in all your endeavors in life, you must know how to deal with them. You’re going to have to deal with problems in life and just being an athlete, it makes you see things differently. I’ll put it that way. You know how to deal with certain things when life gets hard. Life starts being overbearing or overplaying you, so you sort of have to go ‘back door’. It’s the same thing on the court. Especially playing in Buffalo. I think playing in Buffalo alone prepares you for the world. If you’re lucky enough to be able to grow up in the city of Buffalo –.

AD: Really? I’ve never heard that before (laughing). What do you mean by that?

DF: I think Buffalo gives you the tools to go out into the real world and compete.

AD: Interesting!

DF: You know, it’s just the grime and grit here. Whether it’s the snow, it’s Buffalo. If you can make it here and make a name for yourself, I think you’ll go out in the world and you’re ready! I truly honestly believe that. Buffalo prepares you for everything in the world and you’ll definitely know how to go out and handle yourself. You have no choice. You almost have no choice growing up here. I’m speaking about growing up in the city.

AD: Well, Damien. That’s pretty much all I’ve got. I think I asked Jason this as well, but once you guys got to a certain point, did you focus solely on basketball? No football or other sports?

DF: I was never a two-sport athlete. We talked about football because we played pole to pole. But we talked about it and we didn’t want to get hurt. The basketball season was after football season and we didn’t want to mess that up trying to play football, so that was never my thing. I got asked to play football when I was at Boston College. Matt Hasselback was the quarterback at Boston College at the time and –.

AD: Oh really?

DF: He needed some wide receivers, so he said, ‘Just come out for the team! I need a receiver! You’re tall! You’re fast!’ I’m looking at him and saying, ‘Are you crazy? You want me to play Division I Football?’ If you’re going to do that, you’re going to have to do it from little league (laughing).

AD: That’s right.

DF: That never was my thing. I told Matt that they would tear my little skinny butt up (laughing)! That was interesting. He asked me, but nah, I couldn’t do that.

AD: You said something about being one of the top 50 players in the country, but not ‘All-Western New York’ your junior year. Is that true?

DF: I got an invitation to the ABCD Camp in my junior year. They wrote up an article in the paper saying that I was one of the top 50 juniors in the country (see the caption above). The ABCD Camp was for the top 100 players in the country! I’ve got the letter which Coach Cardinal signed. I’ve still got it in my scrapbook. So, it’s like my junior year I went to ABCD Camp, I was killing the Yale Cup and the numbers were there. I didn’t make the All-Western New York First Team (see picture below). I couldn’t believe it and I said, ‘Wait a minute!’

The rumor was that they couldn’t have an all-black All-Western New York First Team. They weren’t ready for that, so they had to have some white faces on the team. I just didn’t see myself not making the All-Western New York First Team my junior year. I made it in my senior season. But how are you top 50 in the country where you get invited to play with Kobe Bryant and all these guys and you don’t even make the All-Western New York First Team?

AD: Yes, that doesn’t make any sense.

DF: Because if you look at the team my senior year, it’s all-black (laughing). I get it. I totally get though. It’s Buffalo!

AD: What are you doing now?

DF: I’m in real estate on the investment side and I’ve been doing it for the last 12-13 years.

AD: Are you ‘holding’ them or are you flipping them?

DF: I pretty much buy and rent them. I’ll sell if needed, but I’ll buy and rent for the long-term. I sold one last year. I got lucky. I bought when the recession hit so I was able to stack them then. I’m glad that I did because now the Buffalo market is through the roof. My older brother was doing it when I was in high school, so I learned from him and from my other brother in Detroit. That was one of the other reasons I didn’t pursue playing basketball overseas as much. My goal was to get to the NBA. You can make a living playing overseas, but the first house I got paid off for me, so I did that.

To me there’s a fine line in any sport in terms how long you play, and a lot of athletes get caught up chasing it for the rest of their lives. And each athlete is different. It works for some and doesn’t work for others. I didn’t want to be that guy who was chasing it, chasing it, and chasing it and then would have to look around and try to be a regular civilian (laughing). Who is going to hire you at 30 or 40 you know? I saw lots of athletes get caught up that way, and I just never wanted to be that guy. The decision was easy for me, so I just did real estate.

AD: Well, I’ll you what Damien. I’m going to transcribe this, but money is something I’m also passionate about. I write about it and I record videos about in on my YouTube channel, Big Discussions76, so if you would like to come on at some point, I’m sure that a lot of the Buffalo folks around the country would be interested in it. And I think it’s something that our people need to get more involved in, the investing side.

DF: Yes, we need more black ownership. Especially in Buffalo.

AD: Well, Damien, thank you again, and I really appreciate your willingness to talk about your life and playing days. Whether you know it or not, you are royalty, at least as far as I’m concerned. What you guys did at Buffalo Traditional was big and in your successes you touched a lot of lives – not just at Buffalo Traditional, but also for the rest of us at the other schools – seeing that those types of things could be done and giving everyone else something to shoot for. It was something for the entire area to be proud of – to say that you were there, and that you played against Damien Foster and Jason Rowe, and the Buffalo Traditional Bulls.

DF: No problem.

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