“New World”: A Song Reflecting on College

This blog was originally published May 21, 2015, on THE LEADERSHAPE INSTITUTE’S Blog Page as part of Towson University’s 10 YEAR Anniversary of the program. 

This past fall I was asked to write a song reflecting on my 2009 LeaderShape Institute experience, and at first, I had no clue where to start.  From meeting some of my best friends to encouraging me to change my undergraduate trajectory, LeaderShape has indeed played a role in the path I’ve followed over the past few years.  The balance and confusion of figuring out my “career calling” and following a path that would not disappoint my personal and family’s perceived potential of me, drove my decisions early in undergrad. Before I attended LeaderShape my sophomore year of college, I planned on leaving Towson University after three years, move on to pharmacy school, and start a career. The path was set, and I wasn’t deviating. It wasn’t until this transformative weeklong experience gave me space to reflect on life more deeply and surrounded me with so many unique perspectives that I knew there was way more to get out of college than a degree. I got involved—SGA, service trips abroad to Honduras, residence life— so many opportunities to learn from and connect with people. This is what college is about.

Two years following my LeaderShape 2009 experience, I earned degrees in Chemistry and Biology, and the path ever since has been an adventure to say the least. I worked for about two years working in various government medical labs and then made the move to Thailand for eight months to volunteer with the non-profit Urban Light, an organization whose mission is to end the exploitation of boys and young men in Chiang Mai and throughout the country.

I always dreamed about traveling the world and having a big adventure and the dream came true. My twin brother (also a LeaderShape graduate) and I had never experienced extended separation prior to me moving to Thailand and he to Tanzania with the Peace Corps. Twenty- four years and we would be on our own. Leaving our family was tough for us both and I know even tougher for them. My Uncle Scott served in the Peace Corps in Togo during the late eighties and died after suffering thousands of bee stings while on a hike with friends. The drums, tapestries, and carvings from his stay, though reminders of his tragic death, were adorned throughout mine and family members’ homes as symbols of the importance of service and the possibility to engage the world. I never met my Uncle Scott, but his love for life, the world, and his family is engrained into my cousins and me through all of the stories told by our parents and family friends. This incredible man left the world so early, and he continues to impact my family and my life. LeaderShape was the bellow to the embers of this idealism that yes, I could make a tangible impact on the world.

“New World” reflects my journey through college up until this past year. In times of insecurity during self-discovery, keeping an open mind and connecting with a diverse group of people led me to where I am today. I am currently continuing as research technician at a government neuroscience lab and teach yoga at Sid Yoga Center in Towson, MD, in my free time. This fall I will be returning to Thailand to play music, teach yoga, and continue working with Urban Light and other non-profits in Chiang Mai.  Travel and living in a new country has opened up my perspectives so much and I look forward to what another nine months in South East Asia will do for my future outlook.

I cannot thank my parents and siblings enough for all of their love and support over the past couple of years as I’ve navigated my place in the world. My mother and father always inspired in me the importance of service to the local community and world and cultivated in me a deep curiosity for that world. Whether through my music, scientific aspirations, or travels, my family has always been by my side, and for that I am forever grateful.

Everyday on my Facebook newsfeed I see so many LeaderShape graduates doing amazing things all over the world—- from Peace Corps to leading non-profits in Guatemala and Honduras to organizing and advocating for communities in Baltimore following the unrest in the city surrounding police brutality. People are standing up for what they believe and leading the way for a better local, national, and world community. The world needs these leaders, and from what I can see, I know it’s in good hands.

“New World”

I’ve always known love and so have you
Feeling’s hard to hide got a front row view
Let your heart shine, let your love flow free
To yourself, to your fellow man, to society

I traded the mountains for the concrete
New beginnings living life full of expectations of me
Life informed through way too many “shoulds”
But what should be never is never will you may never know you could

You never know what you’re looking for
Until it’s standing right in front of you like an open door
And you walk right in make yourself at home
What you find is the knowing you’re not alone

Twenty years old I thought life was on track
But the meaning wasn’t there until I took a step back
Travel the world, take it all in
Let more to see, let more to do, be my only sin

Pennies and dimes may be all that fill your pockets
But the change you carry will take you further than you ever thought it
The ideas you hold can change the world
Could you ever dream of more?*

Welcome to your new world
Held on to old ways for too long
Welcome to your new world
Age of fire in your heart
Welcome to your new world
Cherish all that you’ve got
Welcome to your new world

Twenty five now look how far we’ve all come
Passion inside burns for more, keeps me on the run
Maps the only place borders are drawn
The world is yours, your home let’s treat it that way before its beauty’s all gone*

Love is Louder

Everyday boys choose to come to our programs and center to empower their lives. We're slowly but surely winning the fight against the exploitation of teenage boys in Chiang Mai. LOVE always wins.

Everyday, boys choose to come to Urban Light’s programs and center as a choice to empower their lives and make a positive change. We’re slowly but surely winning the fight against the exploitation of teenage boys in Chiang Mai. LOVE always wins.

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To Thailand and Beyond

After just listening to David Foster Wallace’s 2005 commencement address to Kenyon College, I realize the dramatic shifts my thinking and way of living has gone over the past several years. Wallace states that sometimes, “The most obvious and important realities are often the ones are the hardest to see and talk about.” The “banal platitudes” of life are the ones that seem to be meaningless but happen “day in and day out.” Grocery shopping, the laundry, brushing our teeth— do we ever think about these things, or are these just the necessities that drive our life into seemingly endless tedium? Wallace starts his address by telling the “fish story.” Two young fish swim towards an older fish who nods and says, “Morning boys. How’s the water?” The two fish swim along for a bit and one turns to the other and asks, “What the hell is water.”

Graduating college in 2011, I, like most fresh college graduates sought to jump right into the workforce, make those big bucks, and REALLY enjoy the real world.  My frantic job search for two months landed me away from the pizza shop (shout out to Brenda’s Pizzeria, my place of employment for eight great summers) to a government defense contractor position working in Army chemical defense research (yea, cool stuff). This was an incredible opportunity to flex my research muscles and get some real world experience in the research field. With an incredible mentor and great team, I was able to do just that— attending several conferences around the country and even contributing to several papers that will be published in the near future. My love for science was being nurtured well, but an itch to get out into the world and immerse myself in new cultures had not fully been scratched.

That's one good Bronx Belly Buster Steak and Cheese Hero.

That’s one good Bronx Belly Buster Steak and Cheese Hero.

Chemistry and Biology B.S. degrees attained.

Chemistry and Biology B.S. degrees attained.

Welcoming ceremony at our research institute. Yes, Darryl and I ended up working at the same place. Great carpooling opportunity!

Welcoming ceremony at our research institute. Yes, Darryl and I ended up working at the same place. Great carpooling opportunity!

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