I began writing fiction at age eight, the first time I set foot in Chicago, my imagination drawing stories out of the danger, excitement, and hyperactivity of a new environment. I never stopped writing. Now, having lived in the city for many years, I continue to find inspiration. People inspire me, music inspires me, my job teaching underprivileged students inspires me. I have a lovely wife and a beautiful baby boy that inspire me.
With the help of Loyola’s Digital Storytelling Masters Program, I’ve been able to find a voice beyond fiction, discovering the power of photography, design, video, and podcasts. The program taught me to look outward for stories, finding inspiration not in my personal experiences but through interviewing others about their challenging lives in Chicago.
I’m most proud of the work I’ve done with students in my sixteen years as an educator. I’ve strived to generate the same spark that helped me flourish when I was growing up. I’ve created original content and curriculum for a diverse range of courses such as Honors English, Broadcast Journalism, Digital Journalism, Media Literacy, and Creative Writing.
I discovered a love for travel that fueled my creativity as well. I’ve visited 22 countries and lived abroad in two (France and Japan, where I taught at a university and high schools respectively). Living and traveling out of my comfort zone has taught me a great deal about the world, which I’ve taken back to Chicago in order to better understand what it means to be an American and how we relate to others that are different from us. I presently teach at one of the most diverse high schools in the world, where over thirty nations are represented. Traveling did more than help me create stories–it gave me the sensitivity to learn from various cultures and approaches to life.
So, what are my pet projects? I’m nearly done revising my first novel called Foxxy and the Girlscouts, a sprawling work about two adult-children more in love with their shared passion for music than each other. Like most budding authors, I have a series of short stories that I’m working to tie together and try to publish. And I’m always writing poetry and essays that reflect my joys and frustrations with a modern world that often feels like as though it has gotten away from me.
At Loyola, I’ve been able to create content that pairs with their social justice ideology. My work includes a video on the need for high school theater, a podcast on the challenges the children of immigrants face, and various content that supports public schools. In my second year of the program, I’m looking forward to creating promotional and marketing content for Senn High School that will support their mission. And of course, I’m incredibly excited not only for my work, but for the work of my students, all of whom I know have the power to change their lives, their city, and the whole world.