Dr. Cedric Bright discusses his path towards medicine and the current medical landscape

One of the focuses of my blog is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), and my most central principle is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. While we tend to think of clinical medicine as strictly a ‘Healthcare Profession’, its foundations are rooted in the Basic Sciences. Medical Doctors/Physicians are likewise scientists who specialize in patient care and healing sicknesses.

I recently met Dr. Cedric Bright in person through a mutual acquaintance at a family gathering. I’d heard of him through conversation, and I think I’d previously seen him before, as he was among the many physicians on Twitter using the ‘hashtag’ ‘#BlackMenInMedicine’. It turns out that Dr. Bright, the Associate Dean of Admissions at the East Carolina University School of Medicine , coincidentally knew Dr. Qiunn Capers, IV, whom I first saw using the hashtag.

At the gathering, Dr. Bright eagerly answered the questions of numerous medical school hopefuls who were in attendance. As they asked him questions, he in turn asked them questions about their preparation, their academic performance, standardized test scores, experiences in clinics and overall ambitions. At the recommendation of the host of the gathering, I listened in on Dr. Bright’s discussions and was fascinated by what he had to say.

With my blog having both education and a science focuses, and with me also knowing many medical school hopefuls, I seized the opportunity to ask Dr. Bright for an interview and he agreed. In the following interview with Dr. Cedric Bright, we discuss his background, his path into medical school and his career, and finally the current landscape of medical education – specifically what medical schools are looking for in prospects. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Dr. Bright. Medical school has long been the destination for many undergraduates, and many people will love to hear what you have to say about what the journey towards practicing medicine entails. With that, can you talk briefly about yourself? Where are you from? What got you interested in medicine?

Cedric Bright: I’m originally from Winston-Salem, NC. I grew up there and attended a private boarding school. My parents were both public school teachers and believed in trying to give me and my brother every advantage we could have to be the best that we could be. They were of the ilk where, ‘This generation needs to do better than the last generation,’ and my parents made sacrifices for us so that we could go to private boarding schools.

From there I was accepted to Brown University for my undergraduate studies. I returned to attend medical school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). I did my ‘Residency’ back at Brown. I stayed on as faculty there for four years, and I wrote a paper which was published in the Journal of the National Medical Association, looking at perceived barriers in medical education by race and gender. That led to me being recruited to Duke University and the Durham VA-Medical Center. I spent 13 years there before I was recruited to come back to Carolina (UNC). I spent eight years at Carolina, and just left three weeks ago to come here to East Carolina.

AD: So, let’s go back to the beginning of your journey. Your parents – were they science teachers or were they teaching other subjects?

CB: They were general public school teachers. My father taught math and science in middle school, and my mother taught second grade in elementary school.

AD: What inspired you to become a medical doctor? Did you have a mentor in medicine? Also, are you the first medical doctor in your family?

CB: I’ll tell you that I’m not the first doctor in my family, but I also never met the person who was. He is a distant cousin on my grandmother’s side. I don’t recall hearing stories of him, though I’ve seen pictures. In terms of myself, my father being an educator brought home books for me and my brother to read. It was a series describing what doctors, nurses, engineers, fireman, police, etc., “do”. After reading those books, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, and my brother wanted to be an engineer. Fast forward 20 years, he’s become an engineer. Fast forward 25 years, I’ve become a doctor.

AD: During your journey, were there any challenges in your undergraduate studies or throughout medical school itself? Or were you a ‘straight A’ student where the road was all set for you?

CB: I was nowhere near a straight A student, but I was a hard worker. My parents put me in some courses that taught me how to study. In doing so, they helped me with my concentration. I probably would’ve been diagnosed as “Attention Deficit Disorder” (ADHD). I still have lot of ADHD tendencies now in my old life.

I learned techniques on how to manage my thoughts, my ability to focus, and even with that I had some academic difficulties. I learned how to use the system – how to ask for help – how to not be afraid to admit that I didn’t know something. I learned how to visit teachers during their office hours, and how to spend time after class working on things. I learned how to ask my colleagues who were willing to help – all those types of things.

I did reasonably well in high school. I particularly did well in Chemistry; my teacher was my football coach. I was quite fond of him and he helped me understand Chemistry very well, such that I did very well in it in college.

I did quite well my freshman year in college. Subsequently, I had the ‘sophomore slump’. I pledged a fraternity the spring semester of my freshman year, and I came back and ‘acted’ that fraternity the first semester of my sophomore year, and my grades summarily crashed. At that same point in time, I decided that I didn’t like Biology anymore and I didn’t want to do Chemistry. I decided that there must be something else that I could major in. Low and behold I’d taken some courses in Film because I’d been interested in it, and so I decided that I’d major in it.

AD: Oh, interesting.

CB: My Pre-Med Advisor said, ‘You don’t have to major in a science to go to medical school,’ and I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to take you at your word on that!’ So, I ended up majoring in Film (Semiotics), and what it taught me was how to understand non-verbal communication, understanding how the body moves and when a person’s body is or isn’t reflective of their verbal statements. Being able to interpret my patients better, I think that helped me in the long-term.

AD: Interesting.

CB: So, I pulled my grades up my next two years after my sophomore year, and I think that’s why I got into medical school. My grade point average (GPA) wasn’t great – it was less than a 3.0 and I’ll leave it at that. I had to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) three times to get a score that would at least get me noticed. I think the final score that I got was a 27. I only applied to two medical schools and I got into the UNC, which was crazy.

After getting in, I was advised to do a summer program and I’m grateful that I was. It surrounded me with like-minded individuals. The first thing I tell young people today is to make sure you do some type of summer program to surround yourself with other like-minded individuals. They become your colleagues of the future.

AD: Interesting.

CB: The program also helped me to understand the difference between undergraduate-level and graduate-level studying. Had I not done the program, I’m sure that I would’ve had more academic difficulty during my first year.

AD: So, you’re referring to the complexity of thought and….

CB: And the amount of time you must put into it. For instance, I was used to studying maybe an hour or two a day, and then ‘cramming’ towards the end and still being able to get a good grade. You can’t do that in medical school. In medical school you must put in four to five hours every day. You must put in six to eight hours on the weekend – it’s a ‘grind’ and you must get used to that grind. You have to become disciplined and not fall prey to the ‘Jedi-Mind Tricks’ that your classmates would throw on you by saying that they spent the whole weekend hiking the Appalachians. They might have hiked a mile, but they spent the rest of the time studying. They want you to think they didn’t. So learn not to fall for the Jedi-Mind Tricks. Everyone is working hard in medical school.

AD: Jedi-Mind Tricks (laughing). What was your ‘specialty’?

CB: My specialty ended up being ‘Internal Medicine’, but that’s another story.

AD: Okay.

CB: Let me finish this point. I prayed before I got into medical school. I said, ‘Lord, don’t let get into medical school if I’m not going to graduate!’ So, when I got in, that took a load off me because I knew that I’d prayed and that he’d answered my prayers and I knew that I would graduate. The question then became how. I’d done the summer program, but my first semester of medical school, seemingly on every test I was one to two points above passing and I wasn’t ‘killing’ it by any means.

I was the last man on the totem pole probably every time and on every test. At the end of my first semester, I passed three of my courses, but I failed one by less than a half a point. So, I ended up having to remediate that course during the summer, but after coming back from the Christmas break, I realized that I couldn’t do the same work that I’d been doing and working the same way. I had to change my study habits.

For the most part, I’d studied with one of my frat brothers. It worked well, but it didn’t work well enough. So I said let me branch out and see if I can study with some other people. So I started studying with some other people who didn’t look like me and I started finding ways in which they studied that reminded me of the study programs my father had put me in back in the day. I started re-utilizing those study techniques and suddenly, I began to thrive. I had to make an adjustment and go back to a study technique that really helped me out when I was younger, and it turned out to be the elixir that I needed in medical school.

From that point on in my second year, I moved into a house with six to seven other medical students. Each night we’d study until about 10 to 10:30 at night and we’d come out to the common area of this house and have this massive ‘Quiz Bowl’. The whole point of the Quiz Bowl was for me to take the most esoteric fact that I knew and try to stump them, and for them to take the most esoteric fact that they knew and try to stump me.

Now here’s the key Dr. Dunbar. If I stumped them, I had to teach them. And if they stumped me, they had to teach me. The effect of that was that by the time we got to the exam, we’d asked so many questions of each other from so many different perspectives that there weren’t too many questions on the exam that we hadn’t already discussed. So like a ‘rising tide’, we all did very well. What that speaks to is how you work in medical school to get the ‘volume’. It’s not aptitude that impedes people’s progress in medical school, it’s dealing with the volume.

It’s kind of like trying to eat an elephant. If you’ve got one person trying to eat an elephant, it takes a long time to do it. But if you’ve got seven to eight people trying to eat the elephant with everyone describing what they’re biting and how it tastes, the texture of it, you get to know the whole elephant, but you just ate a part of it. Does that make sense to you, sir?

AD: Yes.

CB: So that’s one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever learned about approaching large volumes of work. If you approached it first being responsible for taking care of your own individual preparation and coming together and working with other individuals who have put in their own individual preparation, you can work very effectively as a group. But it first starts with individual preparation.

AD: Okay, so there’s a component there that requires individual preparation and then there’s a teamwork component there.

CB: That’s correct. The individual preparation gets you to 50%, but that team component gets you to 90%.

AD: That makes sense. When I first got to graduate school, I was used to working by myself, and I discovered that I couldn’t do that and get the grades that I needed. Just quickly, which fraternity did you pledge?

CB: I pledged Omega Psi Phi.

AD: In term of my next question, you discussed this at the gathering where we met, and it really resonated with me. When I was an undergraduate student at Johnson C. Smith University in the late-1990s, many of us pondered practicing medicine, but few of us thoroughly understood what it took to get into medical school. Aside from the academic credentials, what are some of the personal qualities aspiring medical students need to be successful and, in general, what are you all looking for? I remember you saying that you want them to have touched patients before.

CB: That’s true. We want to see that you’ve had a journey of learning about the didactics and the science component, yes, but also about the humanity – doing volunteer service for people less fortunate than yourself. This helps you to understand the social determinants and sometimes the behavioral determinants of health, and how they manifest themselves in our community.

We want you to have spent some time doing some type of hands on patient care, whether its learning how to take blood pressure, learning how to take vital signs in the doctor’s office, or being an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and helping to triage patients and get them to the emergency room. Or it could be just driving an ambulance to take people to their regular hospital visits, being a nurse, or being a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) doing the hands-on dirty work in the hospital. Lastly, it could be being a pharmacy tech spending time working in a pharmacy where people are coming in asking questions about their medications. And helping them understand the side effects, and reactions from other drugs and things of that nature or being a hospice volunteer to helping people with end of life issues.

These are the types of things we’re looking for hands-on wise. There are a lot of smart people in the world, but there’s a difference between being smart and having intelligence. We’re looking for more intelligent people than we are smart people. Smart people know how to answer questions. They can get a question right all the time, but they don’t know how to talk to people. They don’t know how to deal with the ‘human component’. Intelligence is knowing what you know and being able to apply it to the people in front of you at the right time, for the right person, for the right reasons.

AD: Now in that same vein, if I recall correctly, in terms of determining why students want to attend medical school, you’re not looking for canned, ‘cookie cutter’ answers. You want to hear some depth to their answers, right?

CB: Yes. The ‘depth’ comes in multiple ways. For example, when someone writes about their experiences, I don’t care so much about what they did, I want to know how it made them feel. I want them to be able to share with me if there was a significance that changed their view of death if they worked in a hospice; how they think the healthcare system works as the ‘donut hole’ as it goes to prescription drugs.

I want them to be able to share if they know the significance of how nurses are so overworked and have too many patients, such that a CNA becomes so very important; how to take care of people in the hospital, or how to take care of people in the clinic as a medical assistant. Why (what was your motivation)? What did you feel? What did you observe? What did you learn? That’s more important to me than what you did.

AD: So, this is my last question. The landscape of medical education and medical school, has it changed since you were a student yourself? We have a lot of technology now. People communicate differently. I’m sure the actual medical approaches have changed. Can you talk about how things have changed from then to now?

CB: I think when I was coming through, we didn’t have as many imaging tests and diagnostic procedures, so our touch to the patient became more important. Doing the appropriate physical exam was enough for you to come to a diagnosis. You didn’t have to have an X-ray. You didn’t have to have a ‘CT’, because if you did your exam right, you knew what your exam told you. Now we depend too much on technology to tell us what’s wrong with a person, and it doesn’t always equate to us finding the right answers on how to take care of people.

I also think that our technology and having to ‘keyboard’ so much on these electronic records takes us away from the human touch – the humanity of medicine which is the one-on-one conversation with our patients because we’re too busy ‘charting’. Our eyes don’t meet enough. Patients wait months to come see a doctor, not watch a doctor type. Seeing a doctor means we have eye-to-eye contact and we talk as two human beings intimately in one setting, and I think that’s becoming a lost art in medicine. Doctors are under time crunches to see more patients and to make the same amount of money, or to make more money.

AD: I think that rolls into my last two questions. I know that every student is different, but on average, what are the major learning points for the medical students when they come in, because I imagine that these are all very bright individuals. What are the main things they must learn? Is it what you described for yourself? Or is it something else?

CB: I think the main thing they need to learn is that it’s not their aptitude that’s going to determine their altitude, it’s their attitude. If they come in with the right attitude of wanting to learn, and sacrifice whatever it takes to learn, and not come in with the attitude of, ‘I’m not doing this or, I’m not doing that’. That just doesn’t work in medicine. They also must learn how to deal with failure. The thing about medicine as with all walks of life, Dr. Dunbar, is that we all fall down. There’s no shame in falling down and we shouldn’t fall apart the first time we fail.

But what we should do is learn from the mistakes that we’ve made. Learn from what has occurred, grow and move forward, and get back up. I like to say that there’s no shame in falling down. There is shame in laying there. And don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that their life is perfect. All that is, is a mask. We all fall down. We all have imperfections. We all fall short of the glory.

AD: My high school basketball coach used to tell us that exact same thing about attitude and altitude. My last question is going to be a little more global. Under the Obama Administration, we had the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and now that’s kind of been stripped down. In terms of the medical field itself, do we still have enough doctors? Is it still a thriving field?

CB: It’s very much a thriving field, and there will always be a need for doctors. I wholeheartedly believe in that. Artificial Intelligence will never be able to replace doctors, because they don’t have the touch. There’s more than enough need for physicians and, in many places, we’ve said there’s going to be a shortage of physicians in the future. That’s because we have areas where more physicians are passing away than physicians are being made.

The ‘Baby Boomers’ are probably a third of our physicians that we have in the workforce and they’re retiring at a rate of almost 1,000 every month. So, we’re going into a crisis of having more physicians retiring than those who are graduating. It’s a very interesting dichotomy and the American Association of Medical Colleges has been preparing different reports to show that. I was actually looking at one the other day.

The bottom line is that there’s a two-fold problem. We’re not making enough doctors and doctors are retiring, or we have enough doctors and there’s a maldistribution of doctors. Some would argue that theory. We have enough doctors, but all of our doctors want to practice where there are other doctors. But in actuality, we may need to redistribute them so that they practice in other areas that are rural and have less physicians in that area.

AD: Well, Dr. Bright that’s all the questions that I have. Thank you for your time and for sharing your path and knowledge and expertise about the medical field. A lot of people will benefit from this, and I look forward to doing it again.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, you might also enjoy:

Dr. Quinn Capers IV discusses Implicit Bias and the #DropAndGiveMe20 campaign
Dr. Quinn Capers, IV discusses his path, #BlackMenInMedicine, and the present landscape of medical education
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
How my HBCU led me to my STEM career
Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of 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. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

The Importance of Music in Schools

A key focus of my blog is General Education. I recent years, music and the arts have been de-emphasized in many curricula around the country. While there is a new emphasis on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, should music be forsaken altogether? The following contributed post is entitled, The Importance of Music in Schools.

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There’s been a lot in the news in recent years about a lack of arts and creativity in schools. Subjects that were once cherished, like music and dance and being replaced with more sciences, a great emphasis on computers and the addition of things like coding and networking. Even children in elementary school, aren’t being given a chance to learn music in lessons or take extra classes to learn how to play an instrument.

Music and subjects like it are quickly being erased from many curriculums. New subjects are becoming more important, and there’s no denying that children today need to learn more new skills. They’ll spend much of their life working on a computer, and things like coding, networking, and even digital marketing are essential in the modern world. It wouldn’t be right to deny our children the chance to learn them in schools. But, with only so many hours in the day, is it ok to deny them the chance to musical education, a chance to be creative, and even upload music? Shouldn’t we still be offering a rounded education, with music in the middle? Here are some of the benefits of teaching music in school.

Credit – https://unsplash.com/photos/HwU5H9Y6aL8

It Gives Children Greater Expression

Young children struggle to communicate their feelings and needs. Music gives them a new way. They can play instruments to channel how they are feeling, without having to find the right words. Frankly, this can be great for moody teenagers too.

It Makes School Fun

School is hard work. Today’s children are under more pressure than any previous generation. They sit exams much earlier, and much more frequently. A greater emphasis is put on academic achievements. They take more work home, they study for longer hours, and much more is expected of them. Even at a young age, this doesn’t leave a great deal of time for fun.

All this hard work, without any kind of balance can leave children feeling overwhelmed, struggling with anxiety and even facing depression. Even those that cope well can grow up hating school and resenting education. It certainly doesn’t create a positive learning environment.

Creative subjects, with a less academic focus, like music and the arts, adds some fun. It gives children a chance to break free. To be creative, to express themselves, to improve their social skills, to find something that they love doing, and most importantly, to be a child and enjoy themselves. This can reduce pressure massively, improving children mental health and well-being, and even increasing attendance rates.

To Encourage Social Skills

Most children are naturally very social. If they spend their time at school sat working quietly, next to people but not with them and then they go home and sit in front of the TV or playing on devices, these social skills aren’t being encouraged. In fact, they are being stunted. Music encourages friendships, teamwork and gives their social skills a big boost.

It Boosts Brain Power

Learning music boosts their brains. It uses a different part of their brains and gives them a kick start. Kids that learn music or play an instrument are often faster learners, better readers and have better memories.

Researching your career revisited: Wisdom from a STEM professor at my HBCU

I originally published this piece on the Examiner back in January of 2013. It discussed some simple, but valuable career advice a professor from my undergraduate institution gave me and my classmates. If followed, this advice would likely save the student, their family and their schools money, time, and heartache.

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Though the importance is questioned by some today, there are advantages to attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Two big advantages are small class sizes and the personal relationships that can be developed with the faculty. These two factors were integral to my success at Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU).

It isn’t just the close relationships with the faculty that are advantageous, but also the “tell it like is” mentality with which they taught us. The instructors felt as though they had to be hard on us students in order to make us competitive, to help us reach our potential, and ultimately, to achieve our dreams. Some students rejected this approach, while others embraced the guidance and the coaching.

Many students who major in the biological sciences do so with hopes of going to medical school and becoming a physician. Not only is being a medical doctor a well-respected profession, but it is also believed to lead to a life of wealth and prosperity; something many doctors and the author of The Millionaire Next Door, Dr. Thomas Stanley, would debate.

During my first year at JCSU, a very simple but important piece of advice was passed along to the students in our Concepts of Modern Biology class. That advice was simply that we students should take some time to research our careers of interest. Again it was simple but very powerful advice.

“You all keep saying that you want to go to medical school, but you don’t have the slightest idea as to what it takes to get into medical school, or what’s going to happen once you get there,” our professor, a Ph.D. of Cell Biology, passionately said to us. She was small in stature but was a very tough-minded professor.

“What you all need to do is to go to the library, pull out a book on the healthcare professions and read up on what it will take to become a medical doctor,” she further advised us. She’d often say, “the slots are limited,” meaning that it was very competitive to get into medical school and they would only take the best of the best. A couple of driven, motivated and talented students from JCSU in that era did in fact go on to medical school to pursue their dreams.

It was debated quite a bit at the time whether or not students from a small HBCU like JCSU could get into medical school. The students who made it in proved that it could be done, but again they were some of the best and brightest that our Natural Sciences Department had to offer.

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I took my professor’s advice and investigated the path towards becoming a medical doctor. In between semesters, I visited Buffalo’s downtown public library and pulled out a book on the healthcare professions. Some of what I discovered in my research, I’d heard before; applicants needing a competitive score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT), a competitive grade point average (GPA) particularly in the sciences, letters of recommendation, and scientific research or volunteer experience in a clinic or hospital.

What I read next though were the real eye openers. Financially, many medical students offset their tuition with loans and graduated with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt. Medical school graduates are required to complete something called a “Residency” which usually involved them getting little sleep over long periods of time, depending on their specialization. They further had to be willing to move to often remote and undesirable locations in some instances initially. Finally, most don’t start making significant money until long after they’ve graduated or completed their training.

After doing the research, I decided that I didn’t want to go to medical school to be a physician. I stayed in science but decided to go into research which itself had its own notable challenges and struggles, though ultimately quite a few rewards. See my post on that.

The point of this story is not to discourage anyone from going to medical school, especially if treating and caring for patients is a student’s underlying motivation, dream and passion. A career is a personal choice and must be decided by the individual. That being said, it’s important to do the research, study the process and figure out all that will be involved when pursuing a particular career path.

At one point, being a medical doctor may have been a very lucrative profession to pursue, but as with most areas of life, things seldom stay the same. Significant factors that medical doctors have to contend with today that they didn’t worry about as much in years past, is the impact of Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) on the degree of care patients can receive, and the threat of malpractice lawsuits.

“You want to do something that you’re going to enjoy doing every day. If you’re doing something just for the money, it’s not a good thing,” a mentor advised me. In general, careers should be pursued not simply for the money, but based upon what a student is passionate about and has a natural talent for.

Furthermore, the cost of seeking a professional education such as attending medical, dental or law school, for example, should be strongly considered before pursuing a given career. Specifically, the amount of debt that will have to be repaid should be one of the major considerations as it will impact an individual’s lifestyle for a potentially significant amount of time.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree
A look at STEM: What are the Basic Sciences and Basic Research?
A look at STEM: What is Regulatory Science?
The transferrable skills from a doctoral degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of 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, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

The keys to learning college-level Physics

“Physics is a different way of looking at the world.”

A key principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is awareness of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Several years ago, I tutored in the former Northern Virginia Tutoring Service to earn some extra income outside of my federal science career. The subject that gave me the most business year after year was International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) General Chemistry for high school students – both college-level courses.

On a few occasions I tutored some students in Physics – the ‘Grandfather’ of all the sciences. Physics has a special place in my heart as it was a milestone for me during my growth as a student. I didn’t take to ‘Physical Science’ as an eighth grader, and I struggled with high school Physics as a junior. Midway through my junior year, I figured out what was going on and ended the year respectably. I discovered that I could succeed in a ‘quantitative’ science course.

With a younger cousin now taking IB Physics as a freshman in high school and struggling early on herself, I’ve decided to craft a piece about the keys to learning college-level Physics. As a Pharmacologist/Toxicologist, I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible in this piece. Please excuse me if I’ve misspoken about anything or even leave a comment below this post.

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“Physics is a different way of looking at the world,” my father, a Physics major himself in college said when I was a junior in high school and didn’t understand the class initially. It was a vague explanation and I still didn’t get it. My teacher at Hutch-Tech High School in Buffalo, NY also didn’t give a nice comprehensive explanation of what the class was about before going into his discussion of “Scalars” and “Vectors”. He was a very robot-like, studious-looking, middle-aged gentleman, with a graying beard and glasses who almost never blinked as one classmate humorously pointed out one day.  To give him the benefit of the doubt, I’ll say that he might’ve given us a nice introduction and perhaps I just wasn’t paying attention.

In terms of my cousin who is struggling with Physics, one of the first questions I asked her coincidentally was if she knew what Physics was all about. She of course quickly answered, “No.” When learning anything, I believe that context is critical because it lets us know the ‘why’ and makes attacking the ‘how’ much easier. I explained to her that Physics itself is a broad field, but most importantly that it’s a way of mathematically explaining the natural world around us: calculating the masses of things, the speeds of objects, understanding how light and sound travel, understanding gravity, etc.

When NASA, SpaceX or their collaborators and competitors send astronauts and rockets into space for example, there’s a whole series of calculations that need to be performed and worked out ahead of time. Understanding “Time Dilation” in outer space requires some knowledge of how gravity and light work together. This gives us insight as to why individuals age more slowly in low-gravity environments. Calculating how fast a football ball travels, understanding the acceleration of cars, building high-speed rail systems, building bridges and buildings, and understanding how cell phones work – this all involves Physics.

Partway through my junior year struggles, something ‘clicked’ and I realized that we were being asked ‘word problems’ – problems where we were given multiple pieces of evidence and then having to solve for an unknown – usually having to use an Algebraic equation. I’ll use an example from the ‘Mechanics’ chapter of most Physics curricula. Mechanics deals with the movement and speeds of objects and thus involves concepts like: ‘Force’, ‘Momentum’, ‘Velocity’, ‘Acceleration’, ‘Friction’, and ‘Inertia’. The word problems typically involve giving two to three pieces of the puzzle and then asking the student to solve for the unknown.

An example is being given the mass of car, the speed of the car and then being asked to determine its Momentum (p). To answer the question, students must understand what Momentum is in terms of ‘units of measure’. In this case, Momentum is represented as: mass (m) * velocity (v) – the units usually being kilograms (kg) for mass and meters per second (m/s) for velocity:

p = m (kg) * v (m/s)

The measurement of speed is a ‘rate’ and in the United States, we typically measure speed in miles per hour (m/h). Canada uses kilometers per hour (km/h). Most Physics curricula express it as m/s. Underneath the Mechanics umbrella there is also Acceleration (a) which is very, very close to Velocity except for one subtle difference – the units are meters per second squared (m/s²). Instead of Momentum (kg*m/s) this one little change creates the unit for Force (F) (kg*m/s²) which is referred to as the “Newton”. The actual formula is:

F = m (kg) * a (m/s²)

This is just a piece of Mechanics. There are many more calculations in the: Circuits and Electricity, Dynamics, Kinematics, and Thermodynamics chapters just to name a few. This meticulousness with formulas and units of measure is what my father meant by, “looking at the world differently.” He meant looking at the world mathematically and in terms of formulas, laws and ‘constants’. And with that, I’ll discuss some simple keys to excelling at college-level Physics. They are as follows:

Understanding Physics at a high level: While the goal is to understand the world in a mathematical way, context is critical in my opinion because otherwise you’re just needlessly doing calculation after calculation. Again, my high school Physics teacher may have given us a nice comprehensive introduction and I was either daydreaming about basketball or girls, but my first memories of the class were ‘Scalars’ and ‘Vectors’ as described above. Once I got older and understood that Physics is everywhere, and its great history, I developed a great respect for the field and those who work in it.

Understanding the scientific and mathematical relationships: At some point during my junior year of high school, the ‘light bulb’ in my brain turned on. I realized that most of the questions we were being asked involved a principle of some sort and there were corresponding equations and formulas. The examples cited above involved Mechanics but there are many other modules in Physics. Students must be able to quickly read a question and identify which principle and the corresponding formula/equation being called upon. From there it’s pretty much ‘plugging and playing’.

Students must become meticulous about the units measure and your calculator must become your ‘best friend’ just like in Chemistry. Some questions give the student two different units of measure and the units for the answer may be a combination of the two, a constituent of the two, or something completely different if a ‘physical constant’ value is involved – the speed of light or sound for example or the Earth’s gravitational constant. Some questions even involve multiple equations. You get the point, and this is what makes the final key is so important; practice. By the way, many teachers and professors allow their students to write down their equations and formulas and bring them to the tests eliminating the need to memorize them.

Being disciplined about practicing the problems and seeking help: The final important key in my opinion, is taking the time outside of class to go over the practice problems and being ruthless about it. Depending on how long a given test is, students will usually only have about an hour to complete the questions. For that reason, it’s critical to be able to identify what’s being asked quickly, and then being able to quickly calculate the answer. To do that, students must practice as many problems as possible in their spare time – if the teacher assigns only the odd numbers in a chapter, then the student must also be willing to do the even numbered questions to master the principle.

Religiously doing the practice problems takes a certain amount of discipline, foresight and drive. More importantly it also builds confidence. This is the point I tried to drive home to my cousin and others in her situation. If students are confused about something when practicing their problems, they should seek out their teacher or a knowledgeable peer for more help. Once again, a key pillar of science is asking questions and knowing when you’ve arrived at the boundaries of your own personal knowledge.

* * *

“I want to congratulate you. You’ve really turned things around this year,” my high school Physics teacher said to me late in my junior year. His words surprised me, and they showed that he was paying attention to how his students were doing. He saw me flounder early in the year, and then start to grasp the material as time went on. My early grades in the class were in the mid- to high-60s, but I recovered to finish in the high-70s to low-80s. As an undergraduate, I knew what to do immediately and scored in the 90s both semesters.

So, there you have it. Keep in mind that this is for high school and college-level Physics and it can get much more complex. There is for example “Calculus-Based Physics“, which gives me the chills just thinking about it. I imagine that the keys I gave still apply though the material is far more complex.  Lastly Physics in addition to being a prerequisite class for many STEM-hopefuls, it’s also a bit of ‘gatekeeper’ course which can derail the dreams of many Medical School hopefuls and other aspiring healthcare professionals.

Undergraduate Physics is as far as I went, though some of the principles did come into play once I started my graduate research. For the sake of this piece though, like Chemistry, students can get overwhelmed and lose hope once they fall behind early, which is dangerous because some may never want to participate in the STEMs afterwards.

Thank you for taking the time read this blog post. If you enjoyed this piece, you might also enjoy:

The keys to learning college-level Chemistry
The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
The transferrable skills from a STEM degree in the basic sciences
A look at STEM: What is Pharmacology?
A look at STEM: What is Toxicology?
A look at STEM: What is Inhalation Toxicology?

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of 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, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

Reflections on the classroom from a veteran of the school system revisited

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and a key focus is Education. Dad was a critical piece of my journey towards my earning my STEM degree and starting my career. I originally published this piece in the Examiner back in 2012, shortly after he retired from education. I lived with him for almost three years prior to starting my federal science career, and learned some things about his career in education simply through watching, observing and talking to him.

Dad taught in one of the ‘lower’ two districts in New York State’s “Capital Region”, and this account captures what it’s like for some teachers who work in ‘lower income’ communities. While Dad agreed to let me publish this piece, there was some deliberation over its content as he wanted to be truthful while not offending anyone. This piece raises several key questions. Do parents have a role in their child’s education? Is it the school’s job to do everything? Lastly, what are the ramifications for kids getting passed through the system without doing the work, and what ultimately happens to them?

* * *

Dad retired from education after 20 years of teaching Life Science in junior high in one of New York State’s eastern central school districts. When asked about being an educator and the daily issues he faced, he focused mainly on the attitudes and preparedness of his students and their parents. He also focused on an administration that highly emphasized passing its students, probably due to outside pressure which eventually trickled down the to its faculty. The issues he discussed were not unique to his district, and were common in lower income communities across the nation.

“One of the hardest parts of the job was getting the students to believe that I knew what I was talking about,” he said. The adolescent years are known to be the start of a rebellious period in the lives of young people. It’s not only challenging for parents, but also for educators. He further added, “Many of my students came to school hungry and without having breakfast. It’s hard to learn that way!”

Dad spent a lot of time discussing parenting saying, “Somewhere there was a disconnection between the parents and what the students should’ve been doing at home, particularly their homework. The parents should’ve been helping to reinforce our program at home. If we could’ve just gotten the parents on board, things would’ve gone more smoothly.”

“Parents aren’t what they used to be. They seem to act as though they can just make babies and it’s the school’s job to raise them,” he lamented about parents who weren’t proactive and vigilant about their children’s education.

“When I came home, I frequently saw my father reading,” he continued. “In some families, kids come home and see Mom and Dad watching TV and not reading, and will do the same thing. For African American and Latino kids, reading is very, very important,” he said passionately.

Whether it’s a low income district or a high income district as described in the writings of Dr. Ralph G. Perrino of the former Northern Virginia Tutoring Service, strong parental involvement seems to be a key ingredient in the success of students.

When he visited the University of Michigan when I was in graduate school, the famous (and now maligned) neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Carson, originally from inner-city Detroit, openly acknowledged that he wasn’t a strong student early on in his life. He further acknowledges that it was his mother’s insistence that he read and continually expand his mind that set the stage for his successes.

Dad finally voiced his frustrations with the school system itself saying, “In many districts there is a lot of pressure on teachers to pass students who may not be measuring up to the teacher’s expectations and what’s outlined in the curriculum.” In short, whether intended or not, the expectations for his students were being lowered. He further encountered quite a few students and parents who expected passing grades without the work being done.

“The school district was phasing out effort, good behavior, homework, and classroom participation. My students’ grades were eventually based mostly on tests and quizzes,” he said. He closed by saying (with conviction), “The problem is that when these students go out into the real world, they’ll be in trouble in job settings.”

* * *

I want to close by acknowledging all the educators who go to work every day preparing our future generations. It’s a very important and sometimes underappreciated career/job. I’ll always remember seeing Dad go away to school every day, grading papers on the weekends, and enjoying his summer vacations. His experiences weren’t unique, and they applied to many schools in other cities across the country.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:

The story of how I earned my STEM degree as a minority
Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in academic achievement
The benefits and challenges of using articulate speech
Challenging misconceptions and stereotypes in class, household income, wealth and privilege
Who will benefit from Apple’s $350 billion investment?
Father’s Day 2018: Dad’s doctor and his lawyer, and a discussion on careers
Father’s Day 2017: Reflections on some of Dad’s money and life lessons

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled, Big Discussions76. To receive all of 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, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

Hill Harper discusses Honor Your Future Now campaign

Late in 2015, I was approached with an opportunity to conduct an interview with Hill Harper regarding his collaboration with the National Honor Society and its “Honor Your Future Now” campaign. Of all of my submissions for the Examiner, this felt like my biggest one yet. In addition to getting the word out about Honor Your Future Now, Hill and the National Honor Society’s goal was to get parents and young people thinking early about the steps they could take towards preparing for college. He also shared some important aspects of his own journey through life. This interview was previously published on the both the Examiner and the Edvocate.

* * *

With roles in a long list of films including: Get on the Bus, Beloved, He Got Game, The Skulls, For Colored Girls, and most recently, Concussion, Hill Harper needs no introduction. Also an education advocate, the actor/author recently gave an interview on Jan. 12 in collaboration with the National Honor Society regarding its Honor Your Future Now Campaign. In the following interview, Hill discusses the campaign, in addition to other keys to success for students and parents in the areas of college and career planning, and life.

Anwar Dunbar: First off Hill, I’m a longtime fan of your work and appreciate this opportunity to interview you. You are a very well accomplished actor, writer, and an education advocate. Were you always a straight A student yourself? If not, what was the turning point for you?

Hill Harper: No I wasn’t, though my parents very much emphasized the value education can play in your life. In high school I don’t think the teachers or my peers necessarily expected me to be great or do well. I was just an okay student. But there was a fire lit within me, because it was explained to me that there was a link between how I performed in school and my future opportunities.

That’s really the key because when we tell kids to stay in school, we usually just stop there. We usually don’t tell them why, and someone had the foresight to pull me to the side and say, “Hey, you don’t just have to be on the same level as everybody else. If you apply yourself, you can excel, and if you do excel, this is what can happen.”

Because of this I was one of the first people from my school to go away to and graduate from an Ivy League institution (Brown and Harvard Universities). Again, the reason this happened was because I was fortunate enough to have someone pull me to the side and say, “Hey, what you do in school now will impact your future options, so apply yourself,” and that’s why I’m so proud of the National Honor Society pillars; because when you think about what they represent, you can see that you can really build a life of a well-rounded student and individual. That’s what I aspired to do, and that’s ultimately what I became.

AD: I see that you’re from Iowa and have two very accomplished parents. Did you have any challenges as a youth on your journey through school and to all of your successes?

HH: What’s interesting for me is that we left Iowa when I was just starting first grade, very early. I came back for just a little bit, one year of eighth grade, but for the most part I was educated somewhere else. As an African American and moving through different schools and around a lot, maybe that’s why I became an actor because you have to get comfortable meeting new people and adapting to new situations. Certainly in Iowa, African Americans are not the majority, but my parents always made it very clear not to focus on race, and race-based thinking in terms of my education, and in terms of whatever preconceived notions some people may have had.

I can’t speak for how the teachers may have perceived me, but I can say that I was never going to allow anyone to think that I couldn’t perform on the same level as them based on anything having to do with race, and any kinds of stereotypes around education and educational performance. I’m proud of being from the Midwest and having Midwestern roots because it really seems the Midwest is a place where old school values are.

I’m also proud that I went to high school in California because that opened me up to different types of diversity that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. So I kind of got the best of both worlds growing up, certainly by having two parents who were educated. Both of my parents met at medical school at Howard University. I’m very proud that I was able to follow in their footsteps to go to college and graduate school.

AD: That’s interesting because for some black males even when they come from “successful” homes, they’re still caught between following that path or following the negative images in the media, you know, the “street credibility” type of thing.

HH: Exactly. That does happen. In part, to me that happens because many of those young men don’t have enough positive male role models to emulate, which is why it’s important for me to be visible and vocal about my education. A lot of young men will send letters, emails, tweets, or posts on Instagram saying, “Hey man, people used to tell me that it wasn’t cool to be smart and now knowing you, I realize that it’s cool to be smart, because you’re a cool guy. It’s sexy to be smart.”

Smart is the new cool, so I think we can turn the corner on that, particularly with campaigns like Honor Your Future Now, which is a cool campaign. It’s about honoring your future, but it starts right now and to me, if we can get that message out to young people and young African American men, we can really have impact because oftentimes a lot of these young men are taught not to think about their future. They’re taught to think about right now only, and that leads to poor sets of choices. Ultimately in life, we’re all the aggregation and accumulation of a series of choices that we make, and those choices determine our life’s path.

AD: Tell me about the Honor Your Future Now campaign, and why you decided to get involved?

HH: I eagerly came together with the National Honor Society and National Junior Honor Society to help with this campaign. It’s really a call to action for students titled Honor Your Future Now. They’re providing resources, they’re providing advice to prepare for college and careers, and hopefully lifetime success. I got involved because I was a member of the National Honor Society when I was in school, and they reached out to see if it was something I would help them talk about.

There are five pillars of the National Honor Society:

Scholarship- Performing well in school, doing your best and preparing for college;
Character- This one is huge for me and actually goes back to what we just talked about: making choices in your life which are character based choices, demonstrating high standards of honesty and integrity, courtesy and being a high character person;
Leadership- Stepping up and embracing the fact that as a young person, saying I can make a difference in my school, in my family’s life and in my own life;
Citizenship- Being a good steward and a good citizen, understanding what your rights are in this country, understanding that you are just as in control of your community as anyone else and;
Service- Volunteering in community service projects and getting involved.

So if you think about it, these all create a well-rounded person, and I love touting those pillars and those ideals, and they really underlie a lot of what I believe.

Right now we want to talk about how to pay for college. If you go online to Honor Your Future Now, there are lots of resources. There are a lot of misnomers that students walk around with. I talk with students all over the country and they’ll tell me, “Yeah, I want to go to college, but I can’t afford it.” The simple fact is they can’t afford not to go school, and there are different ways to pay for college. The National Honor Society has a college funding graphic on the site. It’s like an infographic and there’s also a link for the Free Application for Federal Student Loans which is a link to the government student loans.

Often these students are coming from schools where their college counselors aren’t up to speed on all of this information about how to pay for school. You have: scholarships, grants, work study programs, and loans, so many different ways to pay for school. Students have to understand that you may have to combine these things, and it’s not just going to be one thing fixes all.

It’s not necessarily going to be a full ride scholarship, and it’s not that you’ll necessarily have to take out loans for the whole thing. You’re going to go and learn about all of the things that are offered and then cobble together how to pay for your education. You’ll get a little scholarship money here. You’ll get a grant here, and some work study there. You’ll get a federal loan as well, and doing all of this, you’ll be able to cobble together the money to pay for school.

AD: In addition to the rising costs of school leading to exorbitant amounts of student debt, what other challenges do you see today’s college students facing? In general, are there qualities and values that you see today’s students (i.e. the millennials) missing that were more prevalent when you were in college?

HH: I think being a critical thinker, and an innovator, are some of the things that will help you get ahead. At the same time understanding technology and really digging in, in terms of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) will really help. I hear so many students say, “I’m no good at math, and I’m no good at science.” When someone says that to me, they’re really expressing a fear more so than the truth because it’s all relative.

It’s not about being good. You have a proficiency in something to a certain degree that other people may not have. Proficiencies aren’t good or bad. It’s just where you are at that particular time, and you can improve those skill sets. If students have these blocks saying, “I’m no good at this, I’m no good at that”, they’ll block it out and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that their proficiency level won’t rise. So the biggest thing to me is conquering the students’ fears. There’s a lot of fear about future jobs and job growth. There’s a lot of fear about technology, engineering and math and science, and there’s a lot of fear about where we’re headed.

Here’s the deal, an educated person who is a critical thinker, who is educated and a good communicator, and actually embodies the five pillars of the National Honor Society is someone who will be able to work in the future, be gainfully employed, and by the way, happy with their career choice. The person who allows fear to stop them from pursuing their higher education, to stop them from even going onto the Honor Your Future Now, and the National Honor Society websites, that’s what I’m most concerned about and that’s what a lot of people do.

AD: Okay Hill, I have one last question. Do you have any closing words or advice for students or parents who may read this interview?

HH: Absolutely. Think boldly and creatively about your future. Think globally and not locally. So many students I talk to think that they have to stay within their relatively small geographic circle, and that they can in no way afford to go anywhere else. And again, that’s misinformation. Fear for me stands for: False Evidence Appearing Real. So much false information is passed down amongst students, teachers, and parents.

The number one place that the students go to for advice around paying for college is their parents. So if parents are actually reading this article, I need parents to go to the National Honor Society and Honor Your Future Now websites, and look at what’s there, because you are going to be the most instrumental person giving your student advice, and if you don’t have the right information, they’re going to get misinformation, so don’t be afraid of what’s out there. Don’t be afraid to learn as much as possible and don’t be afraid to apply to as many different types of scholarships, grant programs, and other loan opportunities to find the best place for your student to go.

And if you’re a parent, don’t be afraid to let your student go away. I’ve heard many parents say, “Well they aren’t ready to go out of state. They’re not ready to go there.” Don’t let your fears hold back the opportunities for your student.

I have a quick story of a young man who was from Mississippi who had the opportunity to go to Alaska to get some higher education and some vocational training. His parents initially didn’t want him to go but he went, and his whole life and world have changed. He has all of these different job offers at this point in different fields in energy and oil production.

These are opportunities that have been given to him, where he is going to become two to three times the highest earner in the history of his family, and that’s coming right out of school. That’s because he looked for opportunities that were further away from where he was where the opportunities didn’t exist, but they figured out how to make it work. So those types of things do exist. It’s just a matter of the individual and the parents of the students doing the work and not being afraid to take a risk.

AD: Okay Hill, those are all of my questions. Thank you again for this interview. Your messages about the National Honor Society and Honor Your Future Now will really benefit a lot of students and families.

HH: Thank you, Anwar.

To learn more about the resources for college planning discussed by Hill Harper in this interview, visit the National Honor Society, and Honor Your Future Now.

Thank you for taking the time out to read this interview. If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy:

Dr. Jonathan Mathis discusses Honor Your Future Now Campaign
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If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of 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, or add my RSS feed to your feedreader. You can follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, and Twitter at @BWArePowerful. Lastly, you can follow me on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup, and State Tournaments

“Our goal was the win the State Championship. It was my personal goal and the team’s goal as well. When you have that goal, you get that ‘tunnel vision’.” 

One of the key principles of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. A key pillar of creating them is hearing the stories and experiences of those who have made it to where we want to be. Like many kids, an early dream of mine was to play basketball. That dream didn’t reach fruition, but the lessons I learned playing in the Buffalo Public Schools’ ‘Yale Cup’ high school city basketball league laid the groundwork for me to go on to further my education and start my science career.

I’m actually working on a project chronicling my early journey, and as a part of the research for that project, I’ve interviewed numerous Yale Cup players from my era. On February 2, 2018, I had the honor of interviewing Jason Rowe – a Buffalo basketball legend who sits on the ‘Mount Rushmore’ of Yale Cup players with the likes of: Trevor Ruffin, Ritchie Campbell, Marcus Whitfield, Curtis Aiken, Ray Hall and Cliff Robinson. Jason spearheaded Buffalo Traditional High School’s ascension to the top of ‘Section VI’ basketball, leading his Bulls to the ‘Far West Regional’ each of his four years, and then to State Tournament in Glens Falls, his final two before winning it in his senior season. In part, one of this two-part interview, we discuss his background, and his storied playing days at the Buffalo Traditional High School.  The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Section VI basketball assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones.

Anwar Dunbar: Thank you for this opportunity to interview you, Jason. I’m working an ambitious writing project about my high school basketball experience. It was my first major success and failure life lesson. While I didn’t play organized basketball beyond the 1993-94 school year, my high school experience on our team at Hutch-Tech gave me the tools I needed to earn my Ph.D. in a STEM-field – not quitting during the hard times, dealing with adversity, finishing what I started, and so on.

In my project I also tell the story of the Yale Cup in that era, and you can’t properly tell it without discussing the Buffalo Traditional Bulls as you guys were the premiere program/team. As a part of my research, I’ve reached out to some of the other Yale Cup players to gain insight to what it was like playing at Bennett, City Honors, Kensington, Riverside, and others. But to talk to you is like talking to Jordan (laughing).

Jason Rowe: That’s a lot of pressure (laughing), but I’m happy to help out.

AD: Okay, so let’s start. As you know, the Buffalo News wrote extensively about you in the early to mid 1990s. They particularly talked about your father, Jerry, and your Uncle Lester being very influential in your development as a basketball player. At what age did you start playing basketball? Did they put a basketball in your crib as a baby?

JR: It’s funny you should say that because that’s literally the story I was told. When I came home as a baby, there was a basketball hoop on the wall in my crib and my father used to pick me up and have me dunk the basketball as a kid.

AD: Was your father a basketball player?

JR: Yes. He played locally, but he didn’t pursue it at a higher level. My uncle and I were the ones who were fortunate to go on to play in college, and to make some money from it.

AD: So you would describe your upbringing as being similar to that of a Stephon Marbury where basketball was literally in your family?

JR: Yes. All of the males in my family – myself, my uncle, my father, and James Rowe my cousin, who was an athlete at Lafayette High School. He played football, basketball, and I believe he ran track too. My brother, Jeremy, played football, basketball, and he ran cross country at Buffalo Traditional. My whole family was athletic.

AD: When you were playing middle school basketball, were you already in camps and clinics?

JR: I went to the University of West Virginia’s basketball camp as a kid. I went to the local camps at Canisius and the University at Buffalo. I was actually at Georgia Tech’s camp the moment Kenny Anderson got drafted into the National Basketball Association (NBA). As a kid I was a huge Kenny Anderson fan, and that’s why I wore number 12 in high school.

AD: Were there any other college and professional players that you looked up to?

JR: Jordan, Isaiah and Magic were the guys that I idolized in the NBA. In college I looked up to Kenny Anderson, Jason Kidd and Chris Jackson. Locally, I looked up to my uncle, Trevor Ruffin  (pictured to the left), and Ritchie Campbell. I looked at them and felt like I could do something. They were guys I could watch every day in a ‘hands on’ type of way. Trevor grew up across the street from me and he was like a ‘big brother’. He played at the University of Hawaii and he went on to the NBA, but I didn’t look at him that way. This was the guy who, when he was in the NBA, would pick me up to go work out with him. We had that type of relationship where he was my big brother, and I was going in the house and watching TV with him.

AD: Were you familiar with some of the other Yale Cup and Section VI stars who came before you like Ritchie Campbell and Marcus Whitfield?

JR: I grew up watching those guys so I idolized Ritchie, Nigel Bostic, and Marcus Whitfield. I vaguely remember Ray Hall. My experience with him was in the summer leagues. But as far as the big name guys who were in the Yale Cup, I knew them because my cousin, James, was eight years older than me. So he grew up in that era and took me to those games because he played at Lafayette. I was able to get my experience watching those games as well.

AD: Did anyone in your circle talk about Christian Laettner?

JR: I heard stories about Laettner, but I wasn’t around him that much. I was at that infamous game between Nichols and South Park where the fight broke out, but I was too young to remember it.

AD: Being at Traditional for middle school, what made you decide to stay for high school? Is that just what the students did there?

JR: I wanted to have my own name. Traditional was home for me. They had some success leading up to that time and I knew everyone on their team. I wanted to be a part of that, so for me it didn’t make sense to go anywhere else.

AD: Yes, every year Coach Joe Cardinal’s teams were making deep runs in postseason play – a couple of times to the State Tournament. Did you and Damien Foster plan to attend Buffalo Traditional together, or was it a random decision?

JR: We grew up in the Masten ‘Boys Club’. The basketball circle is very small. We became friends and started playing there together. I want to say that he was going to go to McKinley first, but he decided to come to Traditional and it definitely worked out for everyone involved.

AD: For me, you guys came out of nowhere. I wasn’t in the ‘basketball circle’ you described, and I didn’t know who you guys were. Thus, the first time I saw you play was when you guys came to play us at Hutch-Tech in January 1993 and smacked us 96-73. It was right after Cameron Calvin died, and it coincided with the University of Michigan’s storied ‘Fab Five’. We had an all upperclassmen starting lineup and getting routed by you guys like that was a backbreaking loss for the players and our coach. I watched it all unfold on the bench due to an injury, and I even looked at the tape numerous times afterwards in awe. Play after play, you guys just made it look easy. Many freshmen are scared in Varsity competition, but you guys looked so fearless. What was your mentality as a freshman?

JR: It’s funny that you mentioned Michigan’s ‘Fab Five’. If you pull up the videos and pictures of us at Buffalo Traditional, we mimicked the Fab Five – the big shorts and the black socks. My mentality personally was to be the best ballplayer I could be. I grew up around Trevor Ruffin and my uncle so inside the home, the pressure to succeed was one of the things that drove me personally. I was fortunate enough to have that basketball success around me – my big brother was an NBA player, and my uncle was a legend who played Division 1 basketball and then overseas. So when you walked into that house you had to bring something to the table. You can’t just sit there and say, ‘I had 10 points today.’ You had to win convincingly and put up some numbers. As a team and as freshmen we were happy to compete and do well, but I don’t think we knew how good we would become and the success we would have. You’re 14 years old and you want to win, but you don’t really understand how far it can take you.

AD: I imagine you guys caught a lot of teams like that. Riverside won the Yale Cup the year before, and if I recall you all beat them. You had two seniors on that team, Andre Montgomery and Jeff Novarra, along with you younger guys. How did you guys blend it all together?

JR: I was in the school so I was familiar with Andre and Jeff already. They were instrumental in our success my freshman year. Jeff was our shooter, and Andre was like our ‘Draymond Green’ – he was undersized, but he could do a little bit of everything. They were very good leaders.

What also helped us was that a lot of us played together outside of Buffalo Traditional. We were always at the Boys Club – myself, Damien, Damone White, who unfortunately has passed away – we were always together playing. It’s kind of like we weren’t surprised because we knew how each other played and our mentality. No one else really knew. We knew how to compete, we just didn’t know we were going to knock off so many teams and make a name for ourselves. We just wanted to win.

AD: As you know, whenever you experience a high level of success, you’re going to have critics as well. I’m sure you guys heard similar chatter, but one of my teammates at Hutch-Tech once told me about how your Coach, Joe Cardinal, would just go into his office and read the newspaper while you guys played ‘pickup’ basketball during practice every day (laughing). What was the Traditional team like? Was it a thing where Coach Cardinal just put the ball in your hands and let you go or was there more to it?

JR: Coach Cardinal was very honest when he would say, ‘I’m a gym teacher, and I don’t know much about basketball in terms of coaching.’ Because he was so open and honest, and didn’t try to hide that, it actually made us closer. He wasn’t lying and trying to be something he wasn’t. He was the most personable coach I ever played for because he had our backs and we knew that. In terms of Xs and Os, no he wasn’t that knowledgeable so it’s no surprise that we didn’t learn certain things.

In tight situations, he would tell us to, ‘run a pick and roll,’ or something very basic – nothing complex. Fortunately for us, we were able to beat a lot of teams by a lot of points, so there weren’t a lot of tight games. When the games were tight I was able to use some of the things my father and uncle taught me.

AD: Were there any other coaches on that staff that made a difference?

JR: Ellis Woods, who was the coach’s best friend. They were cut from the same cloth, and were very open and honest with us about what they did and didn’t know. We would run through a brick wall for both Coach Cardinal and Coach Woods. They could relate to us.

AD: My junior season was cut short due to grades, an injury and not knowing how to deal with adversity, but I kept my eyes on what was happening in postseason play. I remember watching the news at night and seeing your team march all of the way to the Class C “Far West Regional”. You guys beat Starpoint, Newfane, Portville and then top-seeded John F. Kennedy 71-67 to win the Section VI Class C Championship as mostly freshman and sophomores. Some kids never made the sectionals at all, and the core of your team won yours as freshmen and sophomores. What was that ride like?

JR: Our goal was the win the State Championship. It was my personal goal and the team’s goal as well. When you have that goal, you get that ‘tunnel vision’. We used to say, ‘Get to Glen. Get to Glen. You’ve got to get to Glens Falls.’ That’s where the State Championship was held. For some time the Buffalo teams were having a hard time getting past the Rochester teams in the Far West Regional. We wanted to get past Rochester. For us, we had a lot of confidence because we played against the top notch competition in Buffalo. We were confident enough to get past Buffalo’s competition and we just had to beat the Rochester teams. It was step by step.

AD: It was the Marion team in your freshman year and the Mynderse team in your sophomore year you faced in the Far West Regional – were they bigger? Were they better?

JR: Everything. I think what we lacked is what they exploited. They had the structure we didn’t have. They were big and physical, and they just outworked us. I cried a lot after those two games. I shed a lot of tears. They were well deserved victories for them.

AD: Unfortunately, I didn’t go to that Mynderse game which was at UB’s Alumni Arena, but I did see the highlights and recognized one of the guys Damien Foster was jawing at after hitting a three-pointer. I played with some of those guys at the ‘Ken Jones Basketball Camp’ – my coach’s camp which a lot of Rochester area players attended. I imagine just seeing the clash of styles must have been amazing.

JR: You had this fast paced team versus this half court, slow it down type of team – two completely different styles of basketball.

AD: Yes, you guys were clearly more athletic and more talented. I imagine they were patiently working the ball on offense, and slowing the game down.

JR: They were physical. I remember them being very physical.

AD: So you guys beat Lyons in your junior year in the Far West Regional 74-71, you willed the Bulls to victory against Mechanicville in the state semifinals 81-72, before matching up against Elton Brand and Peekskill in final game. What was the key to beating Lyons? Had you guys just been there two years and you were ready?

JR: I would say that it was the pain of losing in the Far West Regional those first two years and not being able to get over the hump. We felt like it was our time and we wanted that victory more than anything else in the world. Lyons might have been No. 1 in the state that year too, and for a team that was easily motivated like us, we’d had enough.

AD: Your team went on to suffer a heartbreaking 94-85 loss to Peekskill in a public state final game, and then you graduated veterans Adrian Baugh, LaVar Frasier and Jimmy Birden who were featured in the Buffalo News during the playoffs that season. Was it hard to get back to the State Tournament the next year? Or did you and Damien just not miss a beat?

JR: It was hard in the sense that it’s just not easy getting there period. But in terms of remaining focused and knowing that the State Championship is what we wanted, the mental part wasn’t hard, but the physical part was hard. You have to play 20 games just to get to Glens Falls – that’s just getting there. The game by game process was hard, but the mental aspect wasn’t difficult. When we lost to Peekskill, I remember telling the Buffalo News before I walked off the court, ‘We’ll be back,’ and I meant that.

AD: I imagine all four years were fun, but was there one that stood out above the rest? Was it in your senior year when the team won the Class C State crown 62-48 over Mechanicville, and then the Class C Federation crown 92-71 over Collegiate of New York City?

JR: Yes, that was the year that we won. It was fun, but it was also bitter sweet, because I remember when we won a lot of us were crying tears of joy, but we also understood that it was over – our run was over and that it was our last game together. Our team was very, very close.

AD: As I mentioned earlier, you guys lost the three seniors from your junior year, but you still had a strong supporting cast which included guys like: Damone White, Darcel Williams, Jamar Corbett, and Darnell Beckham.

JR: To me Darcel was our ‘X-factor’. We had a good team. We had guys graduate in different years, but everyone stuck together during that time so we already had that bond and that chemistry. So by the time Adrian, LaVar and Jimmy graduated, the other guys were ready because they already had experienced playing in big games. That’s why, in my senior year, we were just running through teams. It was insane.

AD: You and Damien were talked about synonymously – Damien Foster and Jason Rowe, Jason Rowe and Damien Foster. What was Damien like? Did you guys have to talk about who was going to get the last shot? Who was going to get the majority of the shots? Was your chemistry just natural?

JR: I had two personal goals going into high school; I wanted to get 1,000 assists and I wanted to win the State Championship. So passing the ball – I didn’t have an issue with that, and fortunately for us, we blew so many teams out that it was never an issue regarding who got the last shot. There is no issue when you’re up 10, 20, or 30 points – we won so many games convincingly that we never argued about who was going to get the last shot. Again, I wanted the assist, so on fast breaks I’d throw the ball backwards to set up someone else.

AD: Talk a little bit about the Bennett game in your junior year – the 69-68 thriller where you guys lost to the Tigers. Periodically, I still see guys talking about it on Facebook. Did you overlook them?

JR: We didn’t overlook anyone. It’s hard to overlook teams when you go into their gyms and their teams have pep rallies. We knew every team was gunning for us. We knew that we were going to get everyone’s best shot so we came ready to play every single game. That night Bennett played well. It’s a great game and I actually watch it from time to time. It was a great game.

AD: Were there any other players that you especially look forward to playing?

JR: I liked playing against LaSalle’s Tim Winn, Burgard’s Jeremiah Wilkes, Cardinal O’Hara’s Ryan Cochran, and Turner/Carroll’s Malik Campbell. We were all friends. We would play against each other one day and be friends, and then completely hate each other on the court the next time. We were all very, very, very competitive. When you have competitors competing at that high level, it just makes for some great basketball.

AD: In your junior season, the Buffalo News also wrote a piece actually comparing you and Tim Winn as you two were the top two point guards in Western New York. If I recall, he actually hoped to team up with you in Empire State Games at one point. Did your two teams ever match up allowing you to go head to head – Buffalo Traditional vs. LaSalle?

JR: Tim was hurt when we were supposed to play. That was a game everyone was looking forward to, and he had sprained his ankle the week of the game in practice.

In the second part of our interview, Jason and I discuss his basketball career after being a Buffalo Traditional Bull. I want to thank Jason for taking the time out of his busy schedule to participate. After completing this interview, I realized that there are other historical significances to what we discussed here, beyond the basketball court. Just as the city of Buffalo has changed since the early 1990s, so has its school system. Two schools that were a part of our Yale Cup of the early 1990s no longer exist. One is Kensington High School. The second is Buffalo Traditional High School where Jason played. While the building still sits there on East Ferry Street, it is now the home for the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts.

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy:

Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional basketball careers and coaching
Niagara Falls basketball legend Time Winn discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls Coaching Legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp
Lasting Lessons basketball taught me: An introduction

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of 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, or add the link to my RSS feed to your feedreader. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

A case for making schools safer revisited

I originally published this article on the Examiner back in 2012 shortly after the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown, Conn. While much of the debate afterwards focused on the National Rifle Association (NRA) and banning firearms, someone suggested making schools safer – an approach I was in favor of even if American’s 2nd Amendment rights were taken away. After all, can the bad guys be legally prevented from getting their hands on firearms?

Recently after this most recent mass school shooting in Florida, the same debate has arisen. President Donald J. Trump set off a fire storm when he suggested arming teachers, and the NRA’s CEO Wayne LaPierre followed up stating that a more sound approach would be greater armed security at schools. Six years later, mental health is working its way into the discussion, but we’re essentially still having the same debate. As with many of my blog posts, the pictures used are courtesy of the Washington Post’s Morning Express.

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In the previous three articles, factors that specifically affected learning were addressed; attitudes, socioeconomics, and environment. In light of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. on December 21, 2012, this article will focus on thinking about how to create safer schools, and preventing similar tragedies. Admittedly, this is a very complex issue with no simple solution. The intent of this article is to add to a discussion which will likely continue for a very long time.

The majority of discussions in the media have focused strictly on the 2nd Amendment (the right to bear arms), and gun control. Discussions about making schools themselves more secure have been the minority. Predictably discussions in the social media world erupted in addition to the mainstream media demonizing the NRA and calling for stricter gun control measures. One of many threads on Facebook generated a debate of up to 80 comments about gun control.

On CSPAN the morning of December 18, 2012, a caller recommended to journalist John Fund and the host that a way to make schools more secure would be to set up perimeters and having metal detectors in most schools. Mr. Fund replied that it would be, “too costly and difficult to implement.” Even if that is true, isn’t protecting the lives of innocent children and faculty members worth the cost?

It has been 14 years since the middle school massacre in Jonesboro, Ark., 13 years since the Columbine high school massacre in Littleton, Colo., and 12 years since six-year old Kayla Rolland was shot dead at her school in Mount Morris Township, Mich., by another first grader. Each of these tragedies involved fire arms being brought into schools.

Whether it’s a shooting at a school, a Jewish temple, or in a movie theater, control of guns is clearly a daunting task. While the majority of gun owners are responsible, legislators on Capitol Hill cannot predict when an Adam Lanza, or some other assailant will go on a random or premeditated killing spree. While movie theaters, shopping centers and places of worship are difficult to protect, carefully policing who and what enters an elementary or high school should not be.

Whenever these shootings occur, innocence is further stripped away from everyone, especially from school environments. Our world is not the safe and secure place that it once was even in seemingly secluded suburban areas. Suburban schools may now need to be secured similar to their urban counterparts, and unless appropriate measures are taken, we may continue to see tragedies such as that in Newtown, Conn.

Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, air travel was forever changed. Because of those events, no one will ever again be able to fly commercially without having to go through stringent security measures. Millions of people fly every day, and it is now considered normal. Similarly, most state and federal government buildings require walking through metal detectors prior to entry for visitors. Isn’t it time to find a similar solution to keep our schools safe?

Thank you for taking the time out to read this blog post. If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive all of 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. Lastly follow me at the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. 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.

Rocketship Education: A Real Alternative

One of the focuses of my blog is education, and one of my key principles is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. As such, when appropriate I will partner with other groups and organizations with similar interests. One such organization is the non-profit Rocketship Education. The following is a brief overview of Rocketship Education provided by the organization itself, their school system and their model. The picture in this post was provided courtesy of Rocketship Education.

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A good education is the best way to ensure that your child has a bright future ahead of them; unfortunately, however, many public school-aged children are relegated to attending underperforming schools, based on the district that they reside in. Thankfully, Rocketship Education provides an alternative; if you’re unfamiliar with Rocketship Education, it is a network of public charter schools available to elementary-aged students.

These non-profit charter schools are aimed at low-income families, who would otherwise have to settle for schools in their district that don’t meet the children’s needs. Founded in 2006, Rocketship Education has made it a mission to provide children with personalized learning, which includes parental engagement, community organizations, and unique lesson plans.

Since opening its first school in San Jose, California, Rocketship Education has earned tremendous praise for helping students score well on state assessments, and for making charter schools a viable alternative for low-income families. In an effort to build on its success in California, Rocketship Education has opened charter schools in the Midwest and as of 2016, opened a school in Washington, D.C. To learn more about Rocketship Education, visit Rocketship Public Schools.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and/or leave a comment. To receive all of 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. 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.

Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

“Look at the first day, and not the worst day.”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success” of which health and wellness are major aspects.  Personal stories also fall under this principle as they are one of the most powerful means of teaching individuals about success and failure.  Recently, three high schools in Northern Virginia hosted a very special guest who shared his life journey starting from his days as a high school basketball standout, to his college basketball stardom, to his ascension to the National Basketball Association (NBA), and then his personal struggles with drug addiction and substance abuse along the way.

On Oct. 2 Chris Herren visited Northern Virginia to talk to students and families about his basketball journey and his lifelong struggle with drug addiction and substance abuse.  In the first of many local stops, Herren spoke at Fairfax High School to an audience of all students in the morning, and then to adults, families and the general public in the evening.  I first heard part of Chris’s story years ago on the Jim Rome Show, and then I watched ESPN’s powerful documentary on his life and journey, Unguarded.  I learned about his visit a couple of weeks ago by chance after Tweeting to Chris’s foundation ‘The Herren Project’.  I told them that I would’ve definitely attended one of his talks in Massachusetts if I lived there.  They shared that he would be making an appearance in early October in the DC area, and as a lover of sports stories, I knew that I had to attend.

Chris Herren was one of the top 20 high school basketball players coming out of Durfee High School in 1994 with multiple offers to some of the nation’s top college basketball programs.  It was in high school where he first experimented with alcohol – something he had seen his father do growing up.  After playing just a little bit for Boston College, he failed a drug test which almost ended his career.  He received a second chance from a legendary coach who had given numerous young men second chances throughout his career – legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian also known as “Tark the Shark”, who had taken over as head coach at Fresno State University where I first saw Chris play on television.  There he played his way into being the 33rd overall pick for the Denver Nuggets in the 1999 NBA Draft.  He was later traded to the Boston Celtics where his drug problems escalated, and then went on to play overseas in Italy where his life further spiraled downwards before setting off on his road to recovery years later.

“The kids across the room who didn’t do anything, they had something I didn’t have,” Chris said in his strong New England accent, describing one of the high school parties he attended where he and his friends consumed alcohol underage, while another set of kids across the room didn’t consume anything and were fine with it.  During his talk, Chris told many stories about his journey which involved experimentation and addiction to Cocaine, OxyContin, and finally Heroin – all while becoming a father and a professional basketball player.  This particular story was significant because it touched on something many young people struggle with well into adulthood; personal contentment and self-esteem.

The significance of Chris’s opening quote of this post is to get people to note where our personals problems start and their root causes, as opposed to focusing solely on the end results – substance abuse, drug overdoses, suicides, and many others.  His just happened to be his father’s struggle with alcoholism, his mother’s resulting pain, and then the experimentation with drugs and alcohol amongst his peers early on as teens.  Chris’s other over-arching message was about “Wellness”, and how both parents and schools need to be more vigilant and aware of the struggles of young people which can lead to any number of injurious outcomes later in life if not caught early and addressed.

“Over the last seven years I’ve had the responsibility of sharing my story in front of a million kids.  I truly believe in my heart that I’ve made a difference for some, and I do this for many reasons,” Chris Herren said opening up his talk.  “When it comes to addiction, I think we’ve gone horribly wrong.  I think we put way too much focus on the worst day, and we forget about the first day.

“It’s safe as parents to show our children pictures of drug addicts and how to watch a movie and at the end explain to them what happened.  It’s hard to sit them down at 15 years old and say honestly, ‘Please tell me why you’re letting this begin.’

After telling his story, Chris took questions from the audience – parents and teens, whom he also makes himself available to through email.  Afterwards he graciously took pictures with those of us in the audience and took further questions individually.  I seized the opportunity to ask him one to two more.

“He’s one of the people that I will unconditionally love for the rest of my life.  I did the eulogy at his funeral at the Thomas and Mack Center in front of 12,000 people.  What I told everyone that night is that he meant the world to me.  He changed me,” Chris reflected afterwards when I asked him to say a few words on Jerry Tarkanian.  “I do what I do today because he did that for me.”

“He gave me a second chance and I truly believe people are worth second chances.  If we didn’t give second chances to people in recovery, we’d be much worse off.  He instilled that in me and it continues in my life today.”

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp
Lasting lessons basketball taught me part one: An introduction
Lasting lessons basketball taught me part two: Life lessons
Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup and State Tournaments
Buffalo Traditional’s Jason Rowe discusses his college and professional careers and coaching

If you’ve found value here and think it would benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment.  To receive all of 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.