I grew up in Riverside, IL and attended Riverside High School. During high school, I was an active athlete, having played Varsity Tennis and Varsity Basketball for a portion of my high school years. Interested in getting started with developing his professional experience, I began working early, holding jobs even as early as high school.
One of my first positions was with Sprint PCS in the winter of 1999. I was a retail sales-person, selling new all-digital plans with now contracts directly to customers. Having worked there for approximately 8 – 9 months, I decided to take my first summer off as a high school student entering my senior year. Beginning the following fall, I began working with WTTW Store of Knowledge as a customer service representative. There, I got my first real introduction to working as a customer service professional, and began getting an idea of my professional aspirations. During my time there, I had one particularly memorable experience:
An elder lady in a wheelchair and her husband came into the store looking for a Christmas gift for their 10 year old grandson. I must have spent at least 20 mins just talking to them about what their grandson was into and basically just listening to her. The store was broken down into sections by age group, so I took her over to that section. I gave her a few options and told her what had been selling for that age group. We talked over a few items and then she chose the one she thought he would like the most. Later on I found out that she actually spoke with my boss on how I went above and beyond in helping her pick out just the right Christmas gift. At the time, I didn’t really think anything of it and was just happy to help someone out. Thinking about it now, I understand the meaning of customer service and how listening to your customers can go a long way.
During my time at WTTW I began to become restless and started pondering how what I really wanted to do with my life. My mother was insisting that I go to college, but at the time I didn’t want anything to do with school. So the military started to become more and more of a way to really do something with my life. I mean shit all I was doing I working some dead end retail job for a little bit above minimum wage. All my life growing up we struggled as a family, moving practically every few years and I just wanted to find a career that was worth talking about. That’s why I felt my destiny was in serving my county. I’d have career and get to see the world, what other 18/19 year old could say that. Originally, I was going to sign up for the Army, because I had a buddy who just left that prior year. I actually gave the Army recruiter all my personal information. It’s funny because I realized why they did that. It was a recruiting strategy they used to keep people committed to actually joining instead of leaving. It was hard as a young kid to tell my recruiter that I decided to go elsewhere, and though it was a hard decision, I knew that it was the best one for me. All things considered, deciding which branch of the military to enter in to is no easy decision to make.
The reason I ended up joining the Air Force is because of my step dad. He remembered how crazy it was in Chicago and the country during the 1960’s. He knew guys going over to Vietnam digging holes, being a grunt and dying. So once he found out I was signing up he took me directly to the Air Force recruiter. Remember this was before 9/11 and there weren’t any major operations going on. When I think back I truly believe he may have saved my life because I was signing up for 6 years and would have definitely been in the middle of everything.
After a few years in the military, I realized that the key to my future would be through education. While still on active duty, I began taking classes, the cost of which was being subsidized by the Air Force. I began school in 2005 at Ridgewood Community College in Illinois, where I had determined I wanted to study accounting. In Spring of 2008, I transferred to Illinois State University, and transferred out at the end of the semester, determining that the school wasn’t the best place for me to pursue my career. After transferring back to Ridgewood Community College, I started a company with my brother called Finest Promotions, a promotions company for the Chicago club scene. After finishing my Associate Degree, I applied to DePaul University where I was accepted and began in the Fall 0f 2010. I graduated from DePaul with a BA in Accounting in June 2012.