“I grew up near Harvard.  I used to skateboard in Harvard Square as a teenager, but I never felt like I belonged there.  Education was never really valued in my house.  Neither of my parents went to college.  Our family life was in shambles because they were getting a divorce.  And I guess my coping mechanism was having fun.  I got in a lot of trouble.   I almost flunked out of high school.  Afterwards I bounced around in community college, until I happened to strike up a conversation with a guy in the union.  And that’s how I ended up as a carpenter.  Over the past several years I’ve worked a lot of jobs on the Harvard campus.  It’s an old campus so there’s always work being done.  And it’s hard sometimes,  seeing all those students going to school.  When you’re wearing your uniform, and covered in dirt, and on your knees, it’s hard not to feel a bit of inferiority.  There always seems to be this barrier between labor and academia.  Like if you turn a wrench, you don’t deserve an advanced degree.  So three years ago I made up my mind.  I’d just finished reading ‘Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,’ and I decided: ‘That’s it.  I’m not going to drink.  Or smoke.  Or do anything else, until I get into Harvard.’  I didn’t tell any of the guys.  None of them knew that I was taking classes on weekends to get my bachelors.  Or that I was studying for the GRE all summer.  Or that I’d applied to The Kennedy School of Government.  It’s been three long years, and the decision finally arrived a couple weeks ago.  I thought: ‘I’ve been tortured by this for long enough.  At least now I’ll have closure.’  So I popped open the computer, signed into the system, and burst out laughing. It didn’t seem real.  I’d been chasing this car for so long now, and I finally caught it.  Now I’m determined to do something with this opportunity.  I want to give back.  I want to help working people have a seat at the table.”