Israel Wilson

Founder at We Free Minds

17

2

FULL FOCUS: I must begin to focus fully on tasks/projects regardless of other circumstances. Creation<Completion

I've been sitting here staring at this blank box wondering how to begin for the last 15 minutes...well I guess I've begun now so let's keep this trend going. The picture you see above is of my classmates and I in San Francisco outside of Delancey Street Restaurant. We are all part of, The Mountainview Program, an admissions program at Rutgers University in New Brunsick, NJ (USA) that allows previously incarcerated people, who qualify academically, the opportunity to obtain a bachelors degree from an amazing university. At this point it might be good if I backtrack a little bit. 

I was born in Portland, OR to two parents from different worlds their cosmic collison caused destruction in the lives of all those affected but created two objects in the process, my brother and I. As a youth I was classified as academically gifted... ADHD, and behaviorally challenged. Physically and emotionally abused at home detention often seemed more a savior than a punishment. By 14 I saw the “streets” as a means of escape and by 15, after an ill-fated reunion with my father, I found myself homeless. Thus I spent the next decade of my life in a cycle of homelessness, crime, and institutionalization with nothing to moor me to the free world. After a decade trapped within this cycle I was given the opportunity to enroll in a college course administered by faculty from Rutgers University, I did.  The class was organized by a tenured Rutger's History professor, Dr. Donald Roden, founder of The Mountainview Program. Upon submission of my first term paper Dr. Roden voiced his belief that I would be a prime applicant for a pilot admissions program (Rutgers-Mountainview Program) that would allow me to attend Rutgers upon release. In that moment my mind and my life changed forever. All it took was one person’s belief in me, and his willingness to act on that belief, to make me believe in myself.

Still, a house built on sand will not stand against the tide. MY life lacked the structural stability necessary to take the waves that life would crash against me in the years to come. I stuck it out. Overcoming internal and external obstacles feeling that in the end  things would work themselves out, and they usually did. The 2011-2012 semester at Rutgers was my most accomplished and my GPA was rising. I was even given an equipment grant to begin filming a documentary about the interrelations between incarceration and education in the US, which was my dream.  Entering into my final semester I was hopeful. Then I found out my financial aide was insufficient and I in fact owed the University thousands of dollars. Now I am scrambling to pay Rutgers so that I can re-enroll but I haven't been able to finish the documentary. I know that if I can put my current issues out of my mind and focus on getting my project produced everything else will fall back into place but for whatever reason I haven't been focused enough to complete my projects. I have a meeting in 7 hours with someone who can change the current course of my life. Let's see if I can stay on track. 

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