Haysten Perez graduated from BOSS in June 2015 and attends DePauw University '19 in Indiana as a New York Posse Scholar. He is Vice-President of the Rho Tau Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. While at BOSS, he emceed the NBA-TV broadcast of the BOSS Gym Dedication with Commissioner Adam Silver, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and All-Stars LeBron James and Stephen Curry
If I was forced to choose one word to describe my college experience thus far, I’d choose eventful. Inevitably, learning in the classroom happens on a day-to-day basis. However, a student learns most outside of the classroom and that’s something I’ve cherished most. In my two full years at DePauw, my experiences have been unique. My transition to Greencastle, Indiana was smooth. I immediately found my niche through extra-curricular activities as well as the community of students of color. However, I branched out and broke out of my comfort zone by meeting people with upbringings completely different than mine. I learned a lot about how the way a person was raised can influence the way they function now. I became fascinated with being conscious and mindful of this difference. Some people just do not share the same experience a colored man from New York City does. Beyond that, a lot of self-identification occurred during this time. I found myself constantly answering the question “Who are you?” Honestly, I never could properly answer this question because of how difficult it is to do so. For example, I identify as a man of color. In New York City, however, I am immediately labeled as a Latino or Hispanic man.
With that, stereotypes and assumptions are instantly attached to you. But what I loved most about my experience here is that I was able to navigate through these social issues by simply being true to myself. On the other hand, I came to realize that who I am is ultimately accidental. The way a person’s life happens is by virtue. In other words, I’ve learned that things happen for a reason and that we must learn to be who we are. Although my focus is college, my experiences at BOSS were significant to the way in which I answer the question about who I am. The places where a person is trained structures that person. BOSS played a large role in shaping my principles and beliefs. Not every place is perfect and I’m not saying that BOSS is. But, BOSS was always a place where teachers and faculty cared about your well-being and that is something that stuck with me for a while. There is a great deal of teachers at BOSS that reached out to me when opportunities came about. Once I took advantage of these opportunities, I found myself growing more and more as the weeks and months flew by. For example, my time spent at Morgan Stanley had to be my favorite high school experience. I learned a lot about professional etiquette and how to navigate in spaces where you may, or may not, be the minority. BOSS was indirectly preparing me for the years I’d be spending at a predominantly white institution.
My experiences at BOSS also influenced my academic goals. Interacting with professionals from the New York Knicks, Inner Circle Sports, and Morgan Stanley helped me shape what it is I am working for. Careers in these great fields/industries wasn’t my ultimate desire; I wanted to develop into a great professional because I was witnessing what it looked like to be one. One experience I’d never forget was at Morgan Stanley. Mr. Tennell called me up to the podium and told me to speak about what being mentored at Morgan Stanley meant to me. Because of the person I am, I didn’t show how nervous I was. I got up, cleared my throat, and began talking about what the relationships I was able to build meant to me. My love for public speaking began here. This also shaped my desire to direct my studies on communication.
All in all, my experiences in BOSS heavily influenced where my life is at right now. As I mentioned, some things happen by virtue. In other words, some things occurred and I simply couldn’t control how they played out. However, I appreciate everything that happened and used it to move onward and upward. Students in inner cities are often convinced that they do not have the potential to accomplish anything beyond high school and getting a job. BOSS helped me believe in my ability to accomplish anything I set my mind to and that’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated. The only limit is the one you set yourself!