I grew up on the South Side of Chicago. After high school, I went to college but had to take a break to care for my mom, who was ill at the time. During that period, I had a lot of student debt to pay back, and I saw an ad on TV about how the Army could help with student loans, so I decided to pursue it. I loved the Army and the structure of it. Most people don’t love boot camp, but I did. While in the service, I spent most of my days in a giant vault, dismantling weapons. I also was able to travel a lot while in the Army and spent my last tour of duty in Egypt. I was in the military for a total of eight years and am 49 now.
Michael Bahi, a member of the ESL STEM Success Grant cohort B and a teacher in Niles Township High School District 219, was recently published in the latest issue of “ITBE Link,” the quarterly newsletter of Illinois TESOL-BE. His article, “A Deceiving Counting System,” deals with the numbering system used in Arabic and the difficulties for those from Arabic language backgrounds in mastering the “Arabic numerals” used with English. You can read it here.
When I attended NLU for undergraduate studies, I was enrolled in the B.S. in Applied Behavioral Sciences (ABS) program, and it was an incredible experience. This interdisciplinary program is accelerated and intended for adults with significant life experience who have completed previous college coursework. The program is taught using a cohort model, which means I went through the entire program with the same group of students. There was such a trust and bond that formed that the cohort became like my new extended family.
I was born and raised in Chicago. When the Army recruiter came to my high school, my ears perked up. I knew I wanted to be a law enforcement officer and learned a great deal about the field through my roles and responsibilities in the Army. My two primary roles in the Army were as a military police investigator and army recruiter. In 2011, I retired with 22 years of active duty in the Army, along with an additional 10 years of service in the Reserves.
It is a cliché to say, “I started writing when I was a young child,” but it is true. Being diagnosed with chronic asthma at the age of five often confined me to the indoors, and there were only so many cartoons I could watch before becoming bored out of my mind. So I began to spend a lot of time reading and writing. I wrote short stories to entertain my family about growing up on a farm. I also wrote short stories with fictitious characters and pets; sometimes my pets talked and were heroes. One of my favorite pastimes was writing stories and making them into little books for gifts.
I grew up in California and moved to Texas at age 14 and then moved again to South Carolina. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to be a criminologist and get as much experience as I could. However, I discovered that I had to be at least 21 to be a criminologist. I wanted to get solid hands-on experience in the field, so I joined the Army at age 18 and served for five years in Germany and Fort Carson, CO.
I knew that as soon as I got out of the Army, I would go back to school to pursue my degree. I returned to civilian life in the fall of 2009. I am married now and have a six-month-old daughter. I live in Algonquin, IL, and attend National Louis University’s Chicago campus once per week.
Even today, eighty-eight years after historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson established Black History Month (BHM), honoring and celebrating it is still a very controversial issue among blacks and other races. Strong opinions of why it should and should not be celebrated are voiced throughout the year and specifically in the month of February.
Like many adult learners at NLU, Alphonso Johnson experienced a moment of realization about the course of his life: He wanted to commit himself to living up to his full potential, as a worker, a student and a member of the community. There’s only one difference. He experienced this epiphany in jail.
“My last time in prison I told myself you’ve got to grow up,” he said. “You can’t blame anybody. You can’t justify or rationalize your behavior. You just have to grow up. You have to take the same effort and energy you used to create this criminal person and redirect that energy and effort into building who you are.”