My name is Dante J. Leary and at this present time, I am 17 years of age. I am a senior at Brooklyn College Academy High School, which is an early college high school affiliated with Brooklyn College. The school atmosphere is extremely positive and gives you the ability to partake in college courses and earn actual credits.
The high school process wasn’t the greatest for me. I faced a lot of adversity, trials and tribulations such as academic struggles that at a point I wanted to quit high school, and also periods of time when I slacked off because my work was too hard. These obstacles were hard to break through but I overcame them. Now that I look back, closing upon this chapter of my life, I am glad that I didn’t quit and chose the option to persevere through it all.
One quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I still remember to this day that got me through my hardships, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” This quote was and still is the driving force helping me to get through all my hard times. It shows my true manhood and matriculation into manhood because I’ve been through something and came out victorious.
My grades may not be the greatest but my willingness to strive for greatness and excellence in my academics is a prominent desire of mine. My lack of extraordinary grades through high school is my motivation for college. It gives me a sense of renewal knowing that I can basically start all over academically, which is why I highly desire to further my education. I didn’t do all of this on my own. I had the support of family, church family, friends, etc. but one person that has truly affected my life would be my mentor Mr. Horace Moore.
Mr. Moore is the founder and director of Chionesu Bakari, which is an all males mentoring program. It is a Swahili phrase meaning guiding light of noble promise. I have been a part of Chionesu Bakari since the fall of 2006. The program has three stages, Pauper (ages 8— 11), Warrior (ages 12 – 14), and Prince (age 14 until completion). Most participants reach completion of the program as a junior in high school; I am the youngest male to do so. With the guidance of Mr. Moore, I am the young man I am today. I dream of one day being a high ranking official in the field of law enforcement to help give back to my mother, who is a single parent, to the community, church and program that helped mold me into who I am now and who I will become.
Law enforcement has been my passion for some time now. As I grow into my late teenage years, being a young African American male, I find that a lot of the criminal allegations are towards minorities. Hopefully I can change that, for example redefining the stop and frisk law. I currently want to become a secret service agent to add some diversity to that law society and to encourage others like myself to go after that job. Law enforcement is not only the police department or corrections department; it goes beyond that to other places and other opportunities.
Mr. Moore first noticed something great in me when I was a student, and he was a teacher at St. Paul Community Christian School. He saw an articulate leader when I didn’t see it, and today I fulfill the title he saw in me at the early age of nine.
Mr. Moore has entrusted me with a lot of things dealing with the program, such as planning trips and guiding the young men that follow behind me; showing them what I do so that they can fill my role when I go off to college. He, recognizing my leadership abilities, placed me on the staff in December 2013 as Assistant Youth Liaison. I was extremely delighted to be entrusted with the position. If it wasn’t for Mr. Moore, I don’t know where I would be because he has been the role model and father figure to me. My father is absent in my life. Mr. Moore has had the biggest impact on me by far outside of my immediate family. Because, he has guided me through my matriculation process leading into manhood so I can be a father not only to my children but to the fatherless as I am. Mr. Moore’s two mottos that I live by daily are firstly, “Do what you have to do now, so you can do what you want to do later” and “To give, and it will come back to you full circle.” These two affirmations have affirmed me to first put in all the hard work now, so later on in life I can do freely what I want. I have to put in the work to do so. The second affirmation guides me daily because it’s telling me once you give from your heart and don’t look for anything in return; it always comes back double what you gave.
By: DANTE J. LEARY
Photo: Agnes E. Green
EDITOR’S NOTE: Daniel J. Leary is the author of this essay, which was submitted with his successful application for a Spring Creek Towers College Award Program 2014 scholarship. He received the Marie E. Purnell Community Service Scholarship, awarded in honor of the past president of the Starrett City Tenants Association who devoted large amount of free time working for the betterment of the community. He is the recipient of an annual scholarship of $2000. Leary is now a freshman at Bethune- Cookman University in Florida, where he plans to major in Criminology. He graduated from Brooklyn College Academy.