October 8, 2018
Dear Mr. Mayor:
My name is Rajay, I am a senior at John Marshall High school, located on the west side of Chicago. I would like to begin with my journey before becoming a life-member of BAM (Becoming A Man). I’m a good kid, a good person but I was experiencing some rough patches and had some negative notions.
Was I a concerned or productive student? Nah, that wasn’t me. I couldn’t focus, I often ask myself, why am I here? Why come to school? What’s the purpose in coming to school? The teachers don’t care about us, the staff treat us like we’re in prison, there’s no peer social life engagement in the building.
If I’m late for personal reason, I’m attacked at the door. No warm welcome, no comfort or even courtesy. I’ve always been hard on myself, judging my daily actions, and my attitude. I have felt that no one really cared about me except my mother and grandma.
Freshman year, I never saw or met any males that looked like me be or lead successful lives.
Day after day, I saw men on the streets using or selling drugs, making fast cash and living in their minds a healthy – wealthy lifestyle. These were people I personally knew, and I was growing up and around them. I saw them give up on school because of lack of support. They were in survival mode, no help for them. Well, I’m not comfortable telling you –Mr. Mayor, I mean you’re the leading man in our city, but you are asking.
So, I want to share with you. Yes, I did learn something from these examples in my life. I learned what NOT to do but I know, and you know street smarts aren’t enough to help me succeed in life.
My sophomore year, second semester I joined BAM and I’ve been an active member at Marshall High School.
Since joining I noticed that my street habits left. I’ve became more invested in my life, involved in school. My attendance is better, my mental focus and this has all showed up in my grades – I’ve improved, and they are amazing. I’ve realized that my bad attitude wouldn’t get me anywhere in life. I observed my BAM peers at school gain confidence with themselves and because of that, a lot of good things started happening for them, getting incentives for great attendance, great grades, and field trips with basketball players, doctors, judges, business owners, you name it; and most importantly, they had a personal advocate in the school, our BAM Counselor. I, my BAM family, we finally had a male in the building that encouraged us. He listened, shared his insights and his life lessons with judging us. He taught, gave freely, even challenged us, and most important to me, helped us have FUN.
Earlier on, I was very disrespectful. I disrespected staff, teachers and my peers. Because the streets taught me that to be a man meant you had to be hard, tough and mean. That all changed when I met Mr. Dorsey, also known as, “My Popz”.
Mr. Dorsey was the BAM counselor at Marshall, he recruited me. Pops helped me out every single day, not just during school hours but whenever I needed him. He always there. Popz challenged me daily, drilled integrity, accountability, self-determination, positive anger expression, respect for womanhood (his serious about respecting women at all times) and visionary goal setting. Our BAM core values. Popz don’t play around when it comes to academics and achieving in school and in life. Mr. Dorsey, BAM often fed me when I was hungry, provided bus transportation to and from school, gave me plenty on 1:1 sessions addressing my well-being and teaching me how to deal with my anger in a positive way. He always made us feel like we belonged, and we were important.
After I graduate high school in June 2019, I plan to attend Mississippi Valley State University. I plan to major in business. And of course, my Popz helped me get in the University. He took me there on our college tour.
Because of him and BAM, I will continue to chase my dreams and focus on myself and make sure that I become very successful in life because I must pay it forward. Mr. Mayor, I’m just saying thank you for supporting Youth Guidance and BAM. Meeting Mr. Dorsey, aka my BAM counselor, changed my life. Thank you to you and the people of the City of Chicago for supporting us.
P.S. You should come on Mr. Dorsey’s BAM college tour trip with us this year? It’s a success and you would have too much fun and meet so many business professional educators. I have to plug it, sir. (Lol).