When I was in high school (and even in college, if I’m honest), I didn’t have any idea about what my life would look like 10 years later. I had a very limited view of the world, and didn’t know how to rapidly expand my perspective while staying on top of my studies.

And by “staying on top of my studies” I of course meant networking with the female student body, but that’s another post for another day. Go ‘Noles.

The point is, my perspective started expanding once I met people working full-time in the “real world.” I had many useful instructors, but there’s only so much you’ll be able to apply from career academics when it’s time to interview for a job.

Fortunately, I received a lot of professional development preparation and mentoring through the INROADS program and a number of wonderful humans along the way.

This morning, Shana and I spent some time at the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the Bronx. The program is solving some tough problems, and we had a chance to speak with the principal about their mission and what they’re trying to do.

The mission of The Eagle Academy for Young Men is to develop young men committed to the pursuit of academic excellence, strong character, and responsible leadership.

What they should actually say is that there’s a full-blown crisis with black and brown youth in this country. The problems are complex, and education is where a lot of progress must be made in order to prevent at risk youth from being funneled into the prison-industrial complex.

We spent about 40 minutes in candid discussion with a bunch of curious, ambitious young men who asked a lot of questions. Shana shared some of the setbacks she’s experienced in chasing her dreams and growing her blog, and I shared a bit about my journey and why I launched Abernathy.

Shana, Willie, and two scholars

Not a bad morning.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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