Life Changing Letter

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Career Defining Letter from Dr. Willie
Career Defining Letter from Dr. Willie

This scathing letter is from Professor Charles Willie, my father's undergraduate academic advisor and professor. Prof. Willie had heard from some recently graduated friends of my father's that his interests had become more financially focused, so the notoriously brash Prof. Willie responded as only he could: by jarring some sense into my dad. If not for this letter, my dad says he would most likely have worked for a Wall Street business instead of committing his life to helping the disenfranchised. Instead of banking six or seven figures per year, my settled for making $18K during first year of teaching prisoners. Thirty-eight years, two concussions, fourteen broken bones, and eight stabbings later, he retired with a salary of a meager $72K per year. This was less than half of what he paid the professors in his nonprofit, who, by the way, were the highest-paid college teachers in America according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Over time, my father's organization shattered America's notions of what to expect regarding an academically under-prepared student's chances for classroom success. His work became so groundbreaking that at one point, the board members of the National Prisoner Education Foundation offered him a $1.8 million-dollar annual salary. My dad refused it. He wanted his $7 billion-dollar nonprofit to use as much funding as possible for the benefit of his students and his staff. 

I'm so proud of that man! 

Place(s): Detroit

– Rasheed

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant