Tag Archives: Morgan State University

Do the best you can until…

Looking back at my life at the age of 18 makes me appreciate where I am now.

At 18 years old, I had just graduated out of Girard College High School in Philadelphia, PA. I was unsure if, where, and how I was going to college. Would I be able to graduate college,  and where I would get the money?! I didn’t know what I would choose as my occupation. I was working two part-time jobs and balancing new challenges of being “grown” at 18 years old.

I was living  in a one bedroom apartment with my mom, and my grandma. I was sleeping on the couch with about a foot of closet space and three shelves for clothes. I was helping raise my newborn sister and coping with a family member dealing with a crack addiction. My brother was struggling with being a teenager but he lived with his father.  I was thinking about joining the military but everyone was saying, “The military ain’t for no black man.” My uncle Rusty was in the air force and my uncle Greg was in the navy. They were the only two black men I knew that had money. I really wanted to join the military but my uncle Rusty said, “Get your degree first!” I didn’t have a plan but this plan was the best plan I could commit to, I had nothing else.

I enrolled in Peirce Junior College and worked two jobs until graduating and transferring to Morgan State University.  I worked three jobs while attending MSU full-time. I graduated, moved south to Washington, DC and never looked back. The rest is history.

Switching gears, same topic…

Every time I see an old friends on Facebook I always say, “If you’re ever in DC, give me a call.” Well yesterday my old friend from Peirce Jr. College, called me. Deb and her husband, Monte were in town to support their daughter, Shanice. She was attending the “The congress of future medical leaders” at the DC Armory.  Deb called me yesterday at like 8am in the morning…crazy, but I’m glad she did. My girlfriend and I invited Deb and her husband Monte to brunch. We sat and talked about old times. The discussion was soo positive. They were so proud of their daughter and it seemed like we hadn’t changed a bit. We sat together in the Founding Farmers restaurant and had a blast. I was just meeting Monte and Deb was just meeting Carma but it was like we were old friends. It was no drama no nonsense just 4 adults talking about our successes, family, and viewpoints.

The discussion made me revert back to a time twenty or so years ago when I had no plan. I had no college degrees, no money, no friends in other countries, no businesses, no cars, no resume (civic or professional), no house, no golf clubs, no passport, and no dog. Deb and Monte were not married or together yet. She was just beginning her career, Monte wasn’t a published author yet. Their daughter Shanice, hadn’t been selected in the “National Honor Society”, she wasn’t even born yet.

This weeks blog is about the possibility of life. At 18 years old I had no idea how my life would turn out. Being among old and new friends with similar drive and determination. Being happy about shared successes, networking and relating the struggle that pays off over time. Looking at what your best is at the time, and watching it get better. Looking back on my goals that became accomplishments and those accomplishments that became a life I’m proud of. 

That life is out there for you. Believe it, it is, just go get it. Don’t look to your friends to define you…don’t look at where you are but where you want to go.  Do look out beyond everyone’s expectations reach for your imagination and make it a possibility.


Venus ethos, ““I can do this even if you don’t think I can”

Playing in the snow!


Filed under Career

My brother just got out of jail.

I have been wrestling with the idea that maybe this subject is too personal. I’ve been trying to find some sort of positive way to blog about my brother Jason and how do I convey some lesson for my audience. I was going to title the blog something corny like, “The Jail Experience” or something that doesn’t completely align with me. Then I realized that my brother and I are in a happier place and I’m not ashamed or embarrassed. People put jail and their loved ones in the back of their heads like jail doesn’t exist or your loved one “went away”.  The simple truth is, it hurts the inmate and it hurts the people they love. So I rested on the plain and simple fact, my brother just got out of jail. I hope that my brother doesn’t take offense, this is just a way to say I love him and I’m glad he’s out.

When we were younger and living together, it was our best years. The Christmas’ when I would run halfway down the stairs and remember he was still sleep in our room and I would run back up stairs and wake him up so we could run down the stairs together. We had different fathers but that was never an issue. Our mom and my father were not married, my father was killed when I was about 2 years old. Later, I went to live with my grandfather, Pop Pop and Jay stayed with his dad and our mom in Philly. Those were the awesome years for my mom, her new husband and my brother Jay. I know the American dream existed for my mom during this time period. I’m pretty sure my brother is the favorite, she won’t admit it. I don’t resent what they had, I just remember my mom in those years, and she was happy. It was the early 80’s and things were good for her.

Jay was the youngest and I would protect him at all costs. I remember the time when I had to go attempt to kick some butt for him at his school. These two kids were bullying him. So I came to school one day and I told him to point them out to me. He nervously pointed them out and I said, “Come on!” I walked up on the two with my fists balled and said, “My brother said y’all keep messing with him.” They looked at me and said, “Who’s your brother!?” I turned to my side pointing at what I expected to be my brother but what turned out to be an empty spot on the sidewalk, realizing my brother was 30 feet behind me, behind a car, peeking. Hilarious…needless to say, he didn’t have any more problems at school. When I left Jersey and came back to Philly things were different. My mom was no longer with Jay’s dad and we could feel the sting of a single parent household. We were still together me and Jay but the difference in our upbringing was taking shape. It wasn’t good or bad, just different. We were slowly stepping into our own levels of maturity. He grew up with the influences of Tupac and those dark years after ‘Pac got out of jail. I could see my brothers influences and where I may have had the wrong perception of him or just simply misunderstood his struggle. My grandmother, my mom, our new infant sister, and Jay visiting on the weekends, all in a one bedroom apartment was motivation to become a man with my own, quickly. I was off to Morgan State University to get away from the hood and my family’s struggle with the damages of crack. 

When I was at college getting my undergraduate degree, his life, through bad decision after bad decision, was unraveling. I was helpless to do anything. I couldn’t drop out and move back to Philly nor could he come down to live with me, not yet.  I found out later that he felt that I left him in Philly. For a long time I was hurting with that knowledge because I wanted my brother to be with us, his family. I was the oldest trying to set the best example and he wasn’t following my example.

He ended up in jail. I never forgot the day I received the collect phone call from the department of correction on my cell phone. I was in line at a water park on Eisenhower Ave, in Alexandria VA. I didn’t know how to accept the phone call, and even if I did, what was I going to do? I was with my friend Leslie and her son, my Godson. I told them to go in and I went and sat down on the curb. That was one of the lowest points in my life. I remember looking at the phone still trying to get the call back, holding onto the cell trying to block out the image of my brother in jail. I felt like the cell phone was my heart and I couldn’t put it back in my body and it was dying.

Anyway, after all the letters and me sending money and keeping him optimistic, I saw him yesterday. I hugged him so hard…we talked laughed and made plans for the future. He’s mature now…I mean, he gets it. All those arguments during the Tupac years and him being in the streets are over.  I’m so proud of him. Now I have the means to help him and get the family back together. I mean we’re together, but he’s gotta come up to speed on some plans we have for the family. He’s a grown man, responsible and focused. When I dropped him off at the halfway house, I was sizing him up to the other brothers returning to the facility and I could see a difference. It wasn’t good or bad, just different, and I liked what I saw this time.  Jail can rehabilitate but I would hope that any young man avoids jail, prison, reform school or any corrective institution. It’s not cool. Rappers glorify prisons, jails, correctional facilities as some sort of ignorant rite of passage but it’s not! All you males curious about jail, it’s not college, it’s not the military and there’s no freedom. My brother didn’t come out of jail as a famous rapper with a record deal. Rick Ross or Little Wayne weren’t there waiting in a limo poppin’ bottles splashing expensive champagne on bikini clad women ready to pick him up. He came out of that place alone, starting over with some significant disadvantages, no resume, no girlfriend and no job. Luckily, he has a family that loves him and will help him get on his feet and get his life started. He’s on probation for 5 years but by then we’ll have this business started. I have the whole word to show him and I can’t wait. Take from the blog, the lesson of mistakes but more importantly, the lesson of family and starting over. Your family loves you in the best way they can, and when everyone else fails you, you always have family. Appreciate them now and don’t make the same mistake.


I love you Jay…don’t worry, I got you and you ain’t heavy. Shorne

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Navigating YOUR success!

I want to help YOU map your life.
I, am not going to map YOUR life. YOU, are going to map YOUR life.
When I say map your life, I mean forecasting your goals to stabilize you in the next phase of life. Your plan won’t be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. You will make it perfect with a little hard work. I won’t promise it will be easy but I promise it will be something you won’t give up on after you start your plan. It will be your plan. Whether you start your plan now or a little later, the key is you must start your plan. I want to help you understand that the first step has to be completed by you and only YOU. The quicker you understand how significant having a plan is going to be in your life, the faster you want to work at it and grow your plan. Your successes and opportunities will tell you that your plan is working.  It will feel awesome.
This is just the first step of many steps but once you take it, you won’t need to look back. If you ever look back, look back to remember where you were and how you’ve changed. There will be plenty of examples of what you could’ve been if you didn’t take that step. They will be on those corners in the neighborhood, they will be on the couch with a game controller in their hands, they will be in jail, they will be under the influence, they will no longer represent you.
You have to make this plan for you, these are your goals, these are your dreams, you can make them your life.
This is a plan but these are some things you might want to think about in stages.
16 years old:
Start thinking about starting a going to college, the military or a trade school. Figure out what you like to do. If you can get paid to do it, that’s like heaven on Earth. Think about starting your own business, don’t rule that out either. Think about that next step. Yes, “college ain’t for everyone” but I’m 43 now. I know people that are going back to school to get their undergraduate degree NOW. Yes it’s a little late but that’s why I’m telling YOU to do it now. Get a degree finish all that schooling before you turn 25 or if you get your PhD or Master’s degree, get it out the way by the time you turn 28.  The previous 10 years of your life, people have been saying what? “Do good in school!” Well this is why, you have to apply what you’ve learned. Think about what schools you want to send your transcripts to, what branch of service appeals to you, think about that next step NOW.
Visit some college campuses, see and talk to students two years older than you and look at what they are doing on campus. See yourself in that role, reach for it, go for it. These college tours costs about $40.00. Do me a favor, avoid splurging on that latest pair of “Jordans” and put yourself in a new environment. You might will like it. If you don’t like it you might have a nervous energy that you may mistake as fear. It’s not fear, it’s just the realization that you don’t know what’s going to happen next, but it’s an opportunity to make your life better. A changing point in my life was when my friends were going to “I Love Morgan Day” it was in the year 1991 I think  and my buddy T and his cousin A were driving down to Baltimore. T was playing ball for the Air Force and was thinking about transferring to Morgan State University and his cousin Adrian was thinking about transferring too. I didn’t know what kind of school Morgan was but it was a free ride to Baltimore for the day and I didn’t have any other plans that day. I had no expectations of attending Morgan or any college for that matter, but when we got there my eyes were OPENED. I had a 2 year degree but a four year college was definitely the next step for me. They had a campus, I could go where I wanted to go, women had their own rooms, no boys were allowed, but they had windows, LOL. It was like a city of people my age and they all had a plan. Looking back, college was definitely the funnest time of my life.
Another thing, learn to drive! Not just so you can drive to the prom(if your uncle rents a car for you), but just so you have legal identification. You have something that starts to validate you as a person, it’s small but significant. Give that wallet some meaning. When I turned 16, I had this thought in my head that someone was going to buy me a car for my birthday. It didn’t happen, more importantly, no one was willing to sit beside me while I drove their car. My boarding school paid for lessons for me…so I was lucky yet again.
Let me tell all you young men now, this is your life, don’t let someone, anyone talk you out of this. Don’t stay in this box of the unknown cause you’re scared…if you stay scared you will NEVER know. Welcome the fear and push past it. There are adults that are my age that are STILL scared because they didn’t take that first step to explore the possibility. You have to make yourself uncomfortable in a new environment, it matures you. You have to do this…this is life, you can’t become a better man if you don’t put yourself in new environments. There’s a statement I heard and like, “Leaders put themselves in situations, followers simply won’t.” I forgot who said it…sorry but you know what I mean. People told me, “College is for white kids.” or  “The military ain’t for a black man.” If I listened to that, I’d probably still be in Philly living with my mother in HER house.
17 years old:
Please have an idea of what college you’re going to attend, retake the SATs if you want. Try to get a better score. Think about that business, get an LLC…why not? Remember I said get driving lessons, well, with a driver’s license you can rent a car.  My uncle did rent me a car because I had a license. Me, my date and my friends drove to the prom, the insurance cost more per day because I was under 25 years old but the experience was something I would never forget and you won’t either. I rented a car, drove to the prom, drove to Atlantic City with my friends, who rented cars, slept in the cars after walking around the casinos for hours in our tuxedos, and came home the next morning. The next day went all drove to Six Flags in our rented cars We survived the weekend hyped up on 2 hours of sleep and adrenalin from owning a sliver of independence. It was the most fun I had in my life…and I was just turning 18.
18 years old:
First, don’t get anyone pregnant!!! I should have said this for 15, 16, and 17 years old.  When you start to succeed in your plan, people will want you to remain who you are to them, they won’t want you to leave. Get a passport.
Those same people that said, “College is for white kids.” or  “The military ain’t for a black man.” Where are they now? I’ll tell you where they are, the same place they were when they told you last year and they will be there when you return. Those people will still being trying to convince you to not pursue your dreams as you’re achieving them; when you’re walking across the stage to get handed your degree, when you signing your acceptance letter to your job, when you’re signing you contract papers for your home, when you set up your own business and when you get married.
I’ll give you few things to consider when creating a plan.
Try not to do anything the prevents or limits your opportunities tomorrow. For example, getting a tattoo or your face or neck, just don’t do it. Don’t get arrested for anything, the record will follow you. Pay your bills, or at least call the companies that gave you credit. Lastly, don’t let anyone convince you to give up on your dream because they gave up on theirs.
Ralph Marston

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