Hey everyone, my name is Gary. I grew up in Spanish Harlem. I am black with a touch of Puerto Rican. I identify more with my black side. I go to Urban Peace Academy. I’m a senior. My favorite subjects are global, American history, English, and theatre production. In my spare time I listen to music—pop, rock, alternative, hip-hop, R & B, and rap. I tutor my cousin and I collect anything involving Vin Diesel, Justin Timberlake, Ludacris, John Cena, Christina Aguilera, Usher, and Paul Walker. I identify myself as “multi-facial.” I am quiet, fun, spontaneous, good, bad, funny, and an over the top, perfectionist, dork. Don’t worry, the good shines through.
The only experience that shaped my life was the death of my grandmother/mom. On September 1, 2002 my mom died of cancer. I attended the funeral and the next day I went to school as a sophmore. It taught me to become Mr. Independent and break free from being Grandma’s little boy. I still miss her, I hold on to all her values and teachings. Thanks, Ma.
I am part of too many communities to list. I learned about YI through my teacher, Kerri Mahaney. She looked at it and said it was perfect for me. I gained fifteen new friends from YI and better people skills. My fellow YI participants have given me more confidence about what I can do. Thanks, guys. The most challenging thing so far was giving my first tour and working through my nerves. But I did it wonderfully. My favorite experience was at the Regents Family Residence. I met a cool kid named Mikey. We clicked. He told me he only wanted to work with me. I am his friend, YI mentor, and in his words, his brother. I did not expect to be able to impact someone that quickly. I am the only one he would show to all of his girlfriends.
My advice to future YI is to have fun. Take advantage of this chance. This is the coolest job a teenager could ever have. I would not trade this for anything, not even Vin Diesel.