Aspiring paralegal, freelancer, and nomad with a mission to visit all fifty states and live in at least ten.
Welcome to my site! I usually go by Mike as I tend to have a casual, but professional demeanor.
While I fall into the category of a millennial, I survived life before Facebook and Twitter, but just missed party lines. I was a senior in high school on the morning of 9/11 and my high school class was the last one in Massachusetts that was not required to take the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System evaluation as a requirement to graduate.
I'm constantly learning something new and training myself in some new skill or discipline. I've always been a bit of an intellectual, and I've always inquired about the world around me; I always want to know more. I tend to question ideas often and challenge ones that don't make sense. I cherish solid banter, value disagreement, and make it a point to expose myself to opposite points of view often for a different perspective.
I was raised to inform myself of the world around me, and to come to my own conclusions. Life requires us to accept certain ideas and standards to make society function and for the world to go round, but I make my own path and I am my own individual. I don't agree with everyone around me, and I've never expected anyone to agree with me. I've written college papers on topics opposite my personal viewpoints and I've challenged myself to make an argument in favor of the opposition for the sake of education. The world would be a dull place if we were all the same, but we also need to be around like-minded individuals for the sake of sanity. I loathe echo chambers, but despite hyperbole and propaganda more.
People come to me for advice because I'm a straight-shooter, direct, and it stays between us. I have a low tolerance for drama (which is ironic given my field of politics), but am interested in solving problems. When conflict arises, the culprit is predominately either bad intelligence or miscommunication. People's opinions of each other tend to come from others' impressions and viewpoints, versus personal engagement. I was diagnosed in 2010 with Asperger's Syndrome, but you'd barely know it when you talk to me. My social skills are my Achilles' heel, but my situational awareness and the ability to pick up on patterns of behavior make up for it.
As I elude to above, education is an on-going process. One should never stop learning considering the majority of learning takes place outside of the classroom.
High school was a rough four years for me, but I persevered in the face of adversity. I attended a vocational school, Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School. Like many other vocational schools like it, Assabet conducted the school year in alternating weeks; week "A" was for academics, and week "B" was for shop. My freshman year, I explored ten vocations, and did subpar through the majority. The only one that I had any competency with was Computer Information Systems. It would be the beginning of my pursuance of an IT background.
In June of that year, my dad's company opened a classroom in Florida. As part of the curriculum and final exams, I was allowed to join him in opening, filling, and configuring the computers in that classroom. That project was also the first time I was exposed to a setting where confidentiality was a must. The only requirement was that I had to write a short paper about my time setting up that classroom. Consequently, that counted as my final for my vocation and earned me a certificate of completion in Computer Information Systems.
As I also mention above, my class was the last one that was required to take the MCAS, something I was thankful for. I found that I didn't learn much going through high school which made taking a standardized test that much more difficult. Regardless, I graduated high school and began to look forward to attending college. Education was always a key value for my parents. They wanted their son to be college educated so that he could build a better life for himself and do good things with his life.
I started attending Quinsigamond Community College in 2001 with the intent to go into computer repair and becoming A+ certified. It was also where my social skills were further developing and I was having to relearn how to make friends. Being social was in high school was a greater challenge than it should have been, but the end result taught me some valuable life lessons that I carried with me to QCC.
To give you an idea as to where IT was at the time, I was learning on Window 2000. I was learning both the client end and the server end. I was in QCC's Computer Systems Engineering Technology program which combined an IT education with that of becoming an electronics technician. The electronics courses were more tailored to someone wishing to work in manufacturing than a help desk setting. By my junior year and combined with doing some work with my dad at his company, I had learned how to fix computers and learned how to work within a server room. The only thing remaining would have been to study for and take the A+ tests. My dad noticed this and brought home enough material to prepare me for and encouraged me to move forward with the testing.
As anyone who has graduated with a degree can attest, there are other classes you take. You can see a list of what I took here. I can safely say that my mathematics, electronics, and programming courses contributed to my grades faltering. It never registered with me at the time, but these two years were another sign that test taking was a weakness of mine. Testing aside, I had a lot of fun learning about computer repair. This was also during a time when the talent of fixing computers (back when you installed sound cards and NICs because they didn't come standard). I eventually graduated with an Associate's of Science in 2003.
Around 2003 and would be a trend into 2004, the four-year degree was becoming the new gold standard for people looking for work. Two year degrees weren't losing their worth, but the job market was starting to view them as high school diplomas. This prompted my parents to have me enroll in a four-year program. Since Worcester State University (college at the time) was local, that was my next venture.
Despite not taking the A+ certification while on the cusp of graduation, I enrolled in the Computer Science department because it sounded like what I had just done at QCC. I was wasn't aware until later in the program that Computer Science and computer repair were two different things. It took me three years of shoddy performance in programming, advanced mathematics classes, and academic probation, to come to the reality that programming wasn't my strength and I truly didn't belong in that major. During my junior year of college, after much deliberation with friends, I switched to Communications with a concentration in Media Production. Much like a movie's climax, not only did my performance in classes improve, but so did my grades. I went through three different advisors to find one that could advise. Much like QCC, I learned a number of life lessons in both my personal and my academic life. WSU was also the first time I made a Dean's List. Through it all, I graduated in 2008 with my BA amid a rough economy and job market in Massachusetts.
From 2008-2011, I was on the tail-end of a retail career with Sam's Club. If you're interested in how it ended, read here. Even though I was unemployed as according to the state's definition of it, I was working part-time jobs and taking work where it was available. One might wonder why after two degrees I was taking part-time jobs and not pursuing anything in those fields. The simple answer was lack of motivation. I also never learned the concepts of getting involved in things at school, joining clubs, networking with peers, or even leveraging the improved communications grades to something better at WSU.
In 2011, I ended up back at my associate alma mater as an A/V Technician, where I would stay for four years. It was my first professional job in an office, and once I achieved full-time, it would be the closest I would come to seeing $20/hour. My departure amicable and professional. I liked doing the job, but A/V was not my future; additionally, I realized that politics was a field I wanted to be more involved with, and I knew that I had some things lined in Wisconsin after networking with people virtually via Facebook while their governor faced a recall election.
Fast forward to 2014 and moving into my first apartment. It was a one-bedroom apartment that was clearly meant for a student and a low-maintenance one at that. For the amenities provided and the quality of apartment, it could be considered a gouge, but for my budget and considering safety, the complex I found would suffice for the first apartment. I had been looking around the city of Worcester for apartments considered I worked in the city, but rent was ranging between $850-$1100 depending on neighborhood. I had found several complexes around $900, but they wanted prior landlord history (which I didn't have) and most of them wanted tenants whose income would be 2-3 times the rent, which I always fell short by a few hundred dollars.
As I was six months into my lease, it was becoming clear by conversations with friends, family, and colleagues, that politics was a passion that should be pursued. I examined my options: I could return to school for a second BA using my state benefits in attending a state university. I could also take advantage of the networking opportunities in Wisconsin and take the plunge of relocation. I filled the family in and began my research.
Approximately four months prior to Thanksgiving, I'd decided that I was going back to school and doing it in Wisconsin. This also meant I would be moving back to my parents house as a way to save money. September 30, 2014, I received a letter stating that I had been accepted to UWM. It was around that time that I filled my family in and began making preparations to move back.
Thanksgiving week doubled as the end of my lease at my apartment and the move back was fairly smooth. From Thanksgiving 2014 to June of 2015, my goal was to work as much as possible and take as much overtime as possible to create a savings that I could live from until I found work as a student.
A few months before my move west, I attended the wedding of two close friends. Until their wedding, I had kept the details of my relocation mostly a secret outside of family. On their wedding day, I broke the news to them. She also offered to accompany me to Wisconsin since I was driving it. I was delighted to have someone join me - I was prepared to take the trip solo, but it's always good to have someone else with you.
On advice from my parents, I started looking at online classes for the summer to see if I could get an early start. For Summer of 2015, I enrolled in two classes: Introduction to Government and Business Writing. The Government class wasn't too bad considering information in the textbook was inaccurate. Business Writing was a favorite of mine - professor was extremely passionate about teaching her class and challenged us to write solid papers. After completing these two, I declared a double major in English and Political Science and learned that I had only to complete the major requirements for both to graduate.
Last Fall would be the second time I had a course with a professor with an obvious bias. She accepted challenges to her views and teachings which often spurred further discussion, but had a difficult time incorporating factually opposing data into her lectures. It was very reminiscent of Gender in the Media from WSU but with a professor that showed better decorum.
Ultimately, between all of my classes, testing was still a weakness, but this time I took a step in the right direction and sought accommodations. They did help to a point, but it was still brutally obvious that I was not a good tester. It was also increasingly more obvious that I should have pursued a Communications/Applied Arts degree from the beginning as I was taking on some side projects where my videography and graphic design beginnings were coming into play. My memberships and conversations with peers also made it much clearer that Political Science and its encompassing fields were my passions down the road.
Fast forward to my final semester at UWM. So far in the course of a year, I have managed to join Young Americans for Liberty at UWM and the National Alliance on Mental Illness at UWM. While my membership at YAL didn't go much further than being a dues-paying member, I did have the opportunity to attend the Wisconsin State Convention which brought activists from numerous YAL chapters together to discuss the organization's plans, goals, and upcoming events. With respect to NAMI at UWM, it was to fulfill my side interest in mental health and psychology. I learned through joining the organization and communicating with the president of the organization that it was in the process of being formed. The president and I met on campus and discussed our backgrounds of both mental illness and our life stories. He found my story interesting and I accepted his offer to be vice president of the organization. Ironic to the reason I came out to Wisconsin, nothing about this officer position was politically related, but it proved to be valuable experience with running an organization.
As the final semester continues, I am taking a constitutional law class that emphasizes government powers and federalism and learning how the Supreme Court functions, going as far as to simulate their actions. It has helped me gain a much greater understanding of how the Court operates, especially en-light of the passing of Antonin Scalia, and how an eight-justice panel functions with a full docket.
I do have aspirations and plans to attend graduate school. My interests are mostly rooted in policy and research.
Site last updated October 2016