My dad ensured that the Wall Street Journal reached my family’s kitchen table each morning. When my siblings and I were learning to read, he made each of us study a variety of articles in order to improve our skills. Although this practice ended, the newspapers continued to come, and I continued to read them. I still enjoy the escape from my reality as I dive from one story to another, and the satisfaction of capturing experiences and accounts that might otherwise be beyond my reach. I believe the newspaper is a way to connect with other realities of the world and ultimately diversify its reader’s perspective.
I did not realize how important this hobby was to me however until I arrived at Howard University and lost access to my dad’s subscription. Once I could afford to, I purchased my own subscriptions and now also manage the business affairs of my school’s newspaper, The Hilltop, founded in 1924 by Zora Neal Hurston and Eugene King. Out of all of the jobs I have worked in my life thus far, this one has been the most challenging, while at the same time making me the most proud. The Hilltop is an incubator for self-starters and bold thinkers. My vision is that one day The Hilltop will be the most lucrative vessel for black knowledge while continuing to be fertile ground for young black stories, journalists, and aspiring business persons.
I assumed the business manager role right when Covid-19 first interrupted Howard’s system, causing the cancellation of our entire printing operation. Ever since then our team has been leading the transformation and digitization of The Hilltop. This includes introducing online infrastructure that reflects standard advertising units and building out a business team with audience development, sales, and product design specialists. Through the implementation of Google analytics our team has more visibility than ever before allowing us to develop key growth strategies. The Hilltop is accessible on every Apple device worldwide through Apple News and our online site now sees over 30,000 monthly active users. Upon graduation I will be moving to California to work in corporate finance at Apple. My decision to pursue further business education has been inspired by my experiences as a business manager and the desire I have to be a leader and change agent in spaces I am passionate about.
As challenging as being gay is, I wouldn’t trade it. As I’ve grown into my independence, I learned that affirmations, relief from mistreatment, and peace of mind about the future are fleeting thoughts to focus my identity and purpose on. Instead, I am focusing on building and leveraging my skills to create the change I want to see and bring my visions to life. I am incredibly ambitious, in part, perhaps cynically, because of these lessons. I aim to fearlessly create new precedent for how outside thoughts, perceptions, and belief systems can dictate individual success, impact, and ability to solve complex problems.
Growing up I attended two different churches. My family is a devout Christian one and every Sunday I would attend DuPage A.M.E (African Methodist Episcopal) where I would also participate in Sunday school, ushering, and scouting. It was here in the safe context of my culture where I learned discipline and the foundational principles on which my faith and morals rest. On Wednesday nights, I would attend Calvary Church, a fairly large non-denominational church where I also had attended preschool through eighth grade. It was here where I learned to love God and explore his peace in my life, as well as develop unique friendships with former classmates. These two places of worship both contributed to the strength my faith now enjoys. The interactions, discussions, and lessons each granted taught me how to persevere and navigate diverse ideologies and systems of teaching. My faith journey is not easy, but continuing to chase God in all aspects of my life has allowed me to find hope and encouragement in an unjust and unfair world.