I joined the big brothers program in Boston about 5 years ago. I volunteered because I know I am where I am today due to the conscientious choices my mother made to surround me with positive influences. I had hoped that I could be a shadow of that example for another young black boy.

I was paired with then-teenaged Hatian immigrant named Giovanni. He's now a 20 year old man, and we just caught up at a coffee shop in cambridge. With my constant traveling and multiple jobs, I feared I was never able to be around enough for whatever lessons I possessed to rub off. I was wrong.

Giovanni is enrolled in a college prep program in Cambridge and is pursuing graphic design and computer engineering. He dresses better than me and is clearly way more smooth. Most importantly, he said he wouldn't be where he is were it not for hanging around me and certainly wouldn't have considered college.

Wow. That is just about the best feeling and makes this trip completely worthwhile (yep, even the fact that I lost my wireless modem). For those of you wondering if you're too busy to be an example to a young person, you are just the sort of example they need.

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