How do you inspire inner-city youth to empower themselves by getting off a stigmatizing path of government dependency into sparking a fire — of not just being self-sufficient — but becoming trailblazers in leading the path towards economic resiliency for their peers?
Far Rockaway local, Nick Master, has overwhelmingly proven that he has the formula, and is determined to keep firing up local youth to know their abilities and encourage others to not just tread the challenging waters of life, but to successfully ride each wave, never looking back.
Master is program coordinator for Rockaway Development & Revitalization Corporation’s (RDRC) Education, Employment & Career Development Services. He said through personal experiences, at a very early age, he was “able to discern a person’s righteous anger against poverty,” but without mentorship and encouragement, they are stunted in their goals, not just to overcome their anger, but to disable forces from preventing their dream of not just being self sufficient, but successful.
Of East Indian descent, Master was born in New Jersey, but moved to Kansas with his family at a young age. “My father came to this country with just seven dollars in his pocket, but he elevated himself and my family by studying, which changed our whole American-bred living experience. He went to school, and later worked at Columbia University in NYC as a librarian, then he secured this opportunity to work as a librarian at a university in Kansas. Years later, I learned that he got the job because he was the only applicant, but you know what, though Kansas was a world away from New Jersey, my father blessed us with a different life. Living in a Midwest college town, taught me the ethics of working hard and saving money, which I impart to youth today. I relate to them, that I too, studied and worked hard. When I was able to buy my first car, I thought, ‘Wow, now I can invite a special lady on a date!” Master said.
So when Master got to New York City, it was all because of doing the old school job application process. “I used to sit in the local library in my Kansas hometown, and just apply to jobs through snail mail. The internet was not happening at that time, so you just sat, looked and sent out letters applying. Then amazingly, NYC’s Child Protective Services was the first to respond, and I accepted, and I haven’t left NYC since. My career has taken me on different channels, but each experience taught me that my destiny was to help empower others to take on whatever and whoever is defeating their dreams, defy debilitating stereotypes and be the best they can be, not just for themselves, but to inspire others.
“I worked for Judge Judy Sheindlin, writing up her cases, and she used to say, “I settled her case just with my writing. Due to my undergraduate background in history, I had both written and verbal skills. Also studying history taught me how American slavery lessons were based on the study of exploitation, and preserving the mindset that that’s where you belong. However, after reviewing and writing up many court cases, instead of being on the punitive side, I realized that I belonged on the therapeutic side, helping youth realize that toxic familial relationships and drowning in government dependency were not the roads to take,” Master said.
Today, Master runs a local "boutique" program at RDRC, steadfastly working to support young adults between the ages of 16 to 30 with a range of work readiness activities. The program develops a young person’s life skills, introduces community participation, and steps to achieve education, vocational and employment goals. Young adults are taught tenets of leadership, financial management, diversity and emergency preparedness, while improving upon computer and technology skills necessary for today’s competitive work environment.
Master said, “I consider myself a general in this field, but I am so overwhelmed with pride and elation when I see my students gaining employment, managing their own checking accounts and even opening their own businesses. I take my students for haircuts, outfitting them for their first job interview suits, even giving them tours of great spots around the peninsula. I want them to know the world is out there for them, they just need to take a huge bite and get hungry for success. Also, to learn how to evade toxic family relationships. Unfortunately, I hear some of them saying, ‘Well, my family member said, ‘Why get a job? Just have a child and you are guaranteed government assistance. That’s not what I want them to imbibe in their souls. Now after my workshops, two graduates just bought their own parcel of land, another one opened her own security firm, and I could share countless more testimonies. This all gives me fulfillment. Seeing them realize there is no ceiling, only if you put it above yourselves.”
Master is certified in leadership and customer training through the National Retail Federation. His program at RDRC, accepts no more than 17 students a year between the ages of 16 to 30, and leans heavily on mentoring and personal development, which then leads to improved self esteem, responsibility and leadership. Subsequently, careers begin to become explored, as participants believe they have no ceiling above them.
The current program has concluded for the summer. It will be kicking off again this coming September, and the biggest recruits for the program, are the graduates.
“I’m so proud of every student who has walked through this door and stayed dedicated, and once they, their families and friends see the change, others are motivated to learn and change their mindset. I tell them just bring yourself to the performance. Instead of feeding off the government, feed yourself,” Master said.
For more information on Nick Master’s program at RDRC, visit: www.rdrc.org or phone: 718-327-5300.BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS