I headed down to Philly tonight to talk to an old friend about my thesis. I should be clear. She’s not just and old friend. Breeze has been a mentor of mine for a decade now. She escorted me into Chicago Public Radio and recently wrote the letter of recommendation that I am confident got me into this graduate program. She’s a staple of my professional career and also a great friend.
When we met we sought each other out as a way to speak for those who had less than we did. Both of us mid western in our roots and from somewhat higher brow families, we had many similarities. One being that we both wanted to change the world for good. Not an easy task but as die hard do gooding twenty somethings we spend our years in Chicago trying to figure out how to organize direct action behind young voters by creating the Chicago chapter of the league of young voters.
Ten years later we are very different people then those twenty something world changers. Breeze has now gone from being a graduate student at the Harris School of public policy at the University of Chicago to then leading community outreach for Chicago Public Radio to where she is now: the spokeswoman for the Kansas Board of Regents. I on the other hand have went from my undergraduate dirty skateboarding self to a career as a professional designer to grad school.
When I look back at the way things came together it was all on a whim. I had gone to see Breeze speak at the Chicago historical society in 2003 about Hip Hop in Politics (a certain state senator was in the crowd that night named Barak Obama) and by chance when I was leaving she was standing out front. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and we exchanged emails.
About a week later I was contacted by email. Her request was to help her with her thesis and in turn get school credit as an intern. I didn’t know what I was getting into, and thank god I didn’t.
After working out the details with the school and fan-dangling our proposition through the internship office we got started. I build a brand and a website around what Breeze was thinking policy wise and what I would later discover as my calling would appear. I wanted to change the world and, with Breeze, I was going to…
Well, we didn’t change the world. We had many successes but GW was elected about 10 months later to his second term in office. We were devastated by that, but we had elected that state senator (Obama) to the national senate and what had been a 30% turn out for young voters in the last election in Chicago had turned into a 65% turn out. We played a role in that change and still take pride in it.
We’re still world changers, just not in such a hurry.