I’ve been thinking a lot about how a person can change things around themselves. We all want to make big positive changes in our communities and lives but there’s so many different wants and views, even people wanting the same change go about it in differing ways. To answer the question I guess you have to really pick something you want to change and start with something small. Small changes can snowball and eventually become entire movements. Small changes here and there can also inspire others and cause a long chain of small changes that shift a community entirely. Making small changes whether it be in our daily routines/mindset or deciding to advocate or act on something can really cascade outwards and help shape life for the better.
I want to say I’m making a change in my community. I’m coordinator of a program that helps underrepresented and low income students get into the STEM fields. We offer tutoring, college ready courses and even mentor them on projects and lab work. We provide opportunities that these high school students normally wouldn’t receive and it helps them get into college and sets them up for a path towards a career. I’d like to say that is how I make change in my community, but it feels like I’m taking credit for the drive and work our students put into our program. I don’t like looking at numbers or writing up statistics for our program for that reason. I didn’t make a change in these students lives, I just gave them an opportunity showcase their talents and that kind of change and all the benefits that come from it should be seen as their efforts. Maybe that’s part of making a change for your community, giving someone else the tools or chance to change. So when I think about how I change my community I look more into how I can help support my community. Whether a student was having a hard time with a subject and the tutoring helped them pass a test or they discovered a field of science they really enjoy that they didn’t know even existed, that’s how I measure the change I make.
So the really short answer is, I make change by just trying to be supportive.
“You have all the time in the world to be an adult, go enjoy the things you do.”
– dR. oWEN meYERS
When I was a kid, I used to love reading comic books. I think I loved them so much because I loved the idea of superheroes. They could do all of the things that I wished I could do as a 4-foot tall kid living in the housing projects of Brooklyn. Every now and then, I would read comic books when my family could afford to buy them, and it was enough for me. Flash forward, I was 20 years old and working one day in the BMCC lab with my mentor, Dr. Owen Myers. He had asked me what I was planning to do that upcoming winter break. I told him that I was planning to come into the lab to work every day because I considered it fun. With a look of bewilderment he said “well, that’s awfully boring.” He proceeded to tell me that I needed a hobby and asked what was something that I wanted to do as a kid and never had the opportunity to do so. I said that I used to like comic books as a kid, but that I could never afford them, and that it seemed like a childish hobby to pursue. He said, “Lionel, you have all the time in the world to be an adult, go enjoy the things you do.” Five years later and I haven’t looked back, I’m about 300 books into my hobby, 150 in single issues, and multiple statues. Apart from owning paperback comics, I also keep up with the storylines of different heroes from all the different franchises, like Marvel, DC, IDW, Darkhorse, and Image. I’ve now become the friend that you ask at the end of a new superhero movie, whether or not that’s how it happened in the comic book. More often than not, I can give you an answer with hundreds of other detailed footnotes being verbally attached. Whenever I find free-time in my week, I research books and statutes that will be soon be released, learn about the storyline of older superheroes, or I’m looking for new art pieces. I think looking at the grand scheme of things, society might not find my expertise 100% useful or unique, but I love it, and that’s all that matters. Sadly, Dr. Meyers passed away a year later, but the advice he gave me, apart from helping me find something I wanted to be an expert in, inspires me to enjoy everything that life has to offer every day.