I am an African-American male who was raised by several black women in Long Island, New York. Although I was born in Brooklyn, my Trinidadian-born aunt and mother and I moved to Hempstead, New York when I was almost four years old. Several years later, my maternal grandmother moved in with us while I attended junior and senior high school. Aunts who lived in Flushing, Far Rockaway, Suffolk County, and upstate New York always spent time at our home on the weekends too.
My mother raised me as a single parent. She scratched her way as an accountant to provide everything for me. Even though her earnings were meager while I was growing up, I never saw any evidence that we were a struggling family. From third grade through tenth grade, she sent me away to an elite sleep-away camp in New Hampshire every summer, where I developed several talents that I maintain today like horseback riding, water skiing, sailing, windsurfing, power boating, swimming, canoeing, archery, tennis, European handball, row boating, and playing baseball. My mother, simultaneously disciplinarian and motivator, always told me, “Don’t let anyone steal your thunder.” She inspired me to win two class-wide spelling bees in the fifth and sixth grades. With her encouragement, I excelled at math, science, and social studies in junior and senior high school, taking the accelerated courses. It all paid off when I won several academic scholarships and was admitted to Stanford University to pursue my bachelor of arts in public policy with a minor in industrial engineering. Subsequently, I attended the University of Chicago to receive another degree in public policy – this time a master's with an emphasis in international economics.
After graduate school, I entered the Foreign Service as a Pickering Fellow, having served in Ho Chi Minh City and Asuncion. Presently, I am the spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I thank my mother, grandmother, and aunts for the early lifelong lessons that continue to hold value today.