When Fortune Comes From Family: An Ode to #NSBE45
The number 7 has always been special to me. I was born on the 7th. My wife and I became a couple on and even became engaged on the 7th. We were married on the 7th in our 7th year of togetherness in 2017. You get it: there are many other interesting ways in which I am tied to this number.
To me, and many others, this number signifies completion as God rested on the 7th day after designing and creating all that we see, from before and beyond. But what does completion really mean? The dictionary defines completion as "the act or process of finishing something" or "the state of being finished."
On today, March 31st, 2019, I revisited this picture of a fortune which stated, “You will be recognized and honored as a community leader.” I read this 7 years ago as a freshman at the University of Michigan's College of Engineering. Back then, I was not only hungry for Panda Express, but I was starving to change the world through my work as an engineer. After all, I have wanted to receive a mechanical engineering degree from this great institution since the 4th grade. Back then, I even made a bet with my mom that I’d get there on a full ride scholarship.
I was finally living my dream and crafted a book to motivate teens to apply for scholarships, so they too could achieve their dreams. My message was simple: You are the future, and you have all the power to change your future when you believe in yourself.
I had a clear vision for a better world. I had a mission toward a promising future. I had a spark in my eyes. I always had a smile on my face. And I had deep convictions.
When I saw this fortune, I had doubts. I had fears that this would never be realized. The earth might as well have crumbled beneath my feet like the fortune cookie in my mouth. I simply did not know what was possible, but I knew that there were infinite possibilities.
I had been working toward building my community as a volunteer. But I never saw myself as a front-and-center leader. I was repeatedly told that I was more of a behind-the-scenes type of guy. After all, I was quiet. I was shy. I had a little stutter and a lot of social anxiety for as long as I could remember. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have never believed I’d be where I am today.
Today is the conclusion of the National Society of Black Engineers Convention (#NSBE45) in Detroit. During this convention, I spoke to parents, educators, and students (4th-12th grade) about applying for scholarships for 3 hours straight. This experience was absolutely energizing. To me, winning scholarships was never only about getting free money. It was about affording opportunities so that I could create possibilities for others. It was about removing barriers so that dreams were fully realized. It was about reaching a better future.
I am humbled to be a part of and serve this community. I connected with so many awesome people doing amazing things from 4th Grade to Retirement. I deeply value embracing communities who look like me, who have a passion for creating change as engineers, and who reflect a long history of designers, creators, overcomers, overachievers, problem solvers, and world changers.
Tears cascade from my eyes like waterfalls chasing down mountaintops when I reflect on the deep roots that nurture and support the trees of society. All the seeds sown, fruits reaped, and flowers bloomed are gifts from the Mother Land of Nature.
We are the black rose that continues to grow in the deepest crack of the concrete. We exist to persist by any means necessary. We are immovable. We are unstoppable. We share culture. We share wealth. We are worthy. We are family. We must recognize that every day.
There were many times throughout the past 7 years where I had many fears and doubts, mistakes and failures, peaks and valleys. I thank God for every single experience because I’ve learned and grown so much. Every moment has been a blessing, especially when it was hardest to recognize.
For me, today represents the completion of a long season of rain. Today represents the first bloom for a season of harvest. Today, I acknowledge that the journey is never finished for me, before me nor beyond me. The journey is ours and we are never finished. However, we, as a people, are complete. We must continue to lead the future that we wish to see. We embody whole love that is reflected in the many expressions of ourselves throughout our community.
Throughout our family.