Over the past month, we’ve been showcasing the amazing work of some of Google’s Student Programs Alumni in their communities. In the final installment of the Black History Month Student Tribute series we are catching up with Michael who participated in the 2010 BOLD Internship Program and went on to be elected as a Councilman for the city of Stockton, California.
What’s one thing about you that many people do not know?
My email address in high school was “firstname.lastname@example.org”! This is a tough question. I feel like J. Cole when he said, “Share my life with strangers who know me better than I know myself.” I tell my story so many times, I’m not even sure what people don’t know!
Since you’ve graduated from the BOLD internship program, what have you been up to?
As a BOLD intern, I learned about project management, how to interact with others and the importance of transparency and communication. I immediately put these skills to work as an intern in the White House and during my time studying abroad in Cape Town, South Africa. The summer after, I co-founded the Summer Success and Leadership Academy at the University of the Pacific and designed a week long residential experience for 50 Stockton students. During my senior year at Stanford, I received my bachelor’s degree with honors, my master’s degree in Policy, Organizational and Leadership studies, and decided to run for city council in my hometown of Stockton.
Since graduation, I’ve been featured in a documentary, True Son, that was screened at Google and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. As a Councilman, I have been able to to equip our officers with body cameras and establish an Office of Violence Prevention in partnership with the Police Chief. I have also been able to start literacy programs with the Housing Authority, pass “Ban the Box” legislation to give ex-offenders the chance to apply for jobs for which they qualify, open the first bank in my district in 50 years and I have increased philanthropic support for my district.
You’re a Stockton City Councilman. Was that always something you wanted to do?
Absolutely not. I view it more as a calling, as I was motivated by the murder of my cousin to go back and do my best to use the considerable blessings I had been given to improve my community.
You inspire a lot of your peers but who inspires you?
Mostly local people and luminaries from my past. My mom, aunt and grandmother inspire me and continue to inspire me. They are three single women who are not well educated, yet have done a phenomenal job. Historically, Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth have inspired me because they drove change despite facing so many more obstacles than we face today. Marian Wright Edelman inspires me, too, as do the original Freedom Riders. Finally, people in Stockton who are doing amazing things despite extraordinary challenges inspire me.
Why do you think it’s important to give back to others?
“The greatest of you shall be the servant of all,” said Jesus and I agree. Giving back is not a choice but a necessity because we all exist in this ecosystem together and the principle of Ubuntu is so true – “I only am when we all are.”
Posted by Shawn Dye, University Programs Team