This week for our #MeetCohort12 series, we meet up with Javon who is very excited about taking a year off. He chose this path because he was unsure about what to pursue in college. He hopes to use the gap year for self-discovery as well as to gain clarity about what to pursue when he eventually joins college. Javon will begin his gap year in October with the largest UnCollege cohort to date.
UnCollege: What were you like growing up? What was your town like?
Javon: Growing up I loved to laugh and joke around. I used to watch anime and read manga often. Growing up in my town was pretty easy going honestly. I often took vacations to Gary Indiana, which was also laid back, until high school. Watching and reading the news in the area was very depressing majority of the time. But Atlanta has always been such a fun and easy going city to grow up in. It wasn't too tough of a city. Everyone pretty much minded their business and got their own.
What’s your stance on school or what are your favorite and least favorite parts about school?
My mum would tell you that I've literally been telling her this since I was about 13 years old - "I hate school, but I love education." I could read an article on finance and educate myself about financial literacy. I've taught myself to work on my 1999 VW Jetta. I've even taught myself to cook a couple of dishes. All these examples are things that they do not teach in schools but are practical things anyone in this country should know about. Not only are they not teaching us things that we should most definitely know by college but school seems so systematic. In my school, some teachers may know me personally, but to my new principal and most administrators, I was nothing but a number. Much like a prison inmate. My favorite part was making new friends, and my least favorite was when I felt like they really didn't care about me.
What do you like to do during your free time?
I usually spend my free time making some extra pocket change in any way I can - cutting grass, Postmates, doesn't really matter as long as there's profit. I like to watch documentaries and interviews a lot too. But if I'm not doing any of these, I'm playing basketball with a few of my friends somewhere. Sometimes I drive just to listen to music. All music is good music to me because I feel as though it is an artistic expression of how that individual artist decided to express themselves. I could easily go from listening to my friend's basement studio music to Erykah Badu, then to Fall Out Boy and Tyler the Creator, all the way to Playboi Carti and Rage Against the Machine.
What led you to take a gap year?
Ever since I was a child, I loved traveling, so Voyage was the phase that sealed the deal for sure. I also took a gap year due to my worries about going to college and not knowing what to do once I got in and eventually once I got out. I felt like this bridge year program would, in a sense, teach me the tricks and trades of life as I prepare myself for this growing world around me.
How did your parents respond?
Well, my mom fell for the Voyage and Internship phase instantly. Voyage because she loves traveling just as much if not way more than me. She says it will be an incredible learning experience. She loves Internship because as an accounting manager at her old job she saw that the university you went to didn't matter and that jobs these days are looking for experience in the field. How do you have time to gain experience in college when you have tons of other responsibilities? She says this was a great opportunity to gain some know-how.
What are you most excited about going into UnCollege? (phase, element, etc.?)
Well, honestly, I can't decide which phase I'm excited the most about. But if I had to choose, it would be the Launch phase. I would love to see how I would survive living on my own in a city as prominent as San Fransisco. I literally shake at the thought - I'm so excited.
What are your goals for the gap year?
Well having fun is the top priority of my list because if you aren't doing what you love.. what are you doing? So having a good time is my number one goal for the gap year. Coming at a close second, my number 2 goal is to obtain as much knowledge that I can about not only the environment around me but also about myself. What I lean towards and the things that I love and tend to do are a couple of many things I intend to learn about myself. That way, I could have an idea of which way I would like my life to go when this is over.
What’s your biggest fear going into the program?
Oh god, I'm literally TERRIFIED of... how much fun I'm going to have! I'm coming in full effect. No fear like Shakespeare, taking advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to my attention. If it's something new that I've never done, then I'm in there like swimwear. However, as far as what I worry about coming out of the program, I would hate to get out of this magnificent 'off-the-beaten-path' experience still without a somewhat clear purpose in life, or at least an idea of what direction I would like my life to go to.
What's on your bucket list and what are you least excited about your Voyage phase in Peru?
I would love to learn how to surf and become a better skateboarder. A very close second on the bucket list would be to get to speak somewhat fluently in Spanish.
One thing I'm not so excited about though is the possibility that I could be infected by the Zika Virus out there. But I heard that there are rare cases, so I'm not going to sweat it that much.
What is your favorite quote?
"Emancipate yourself from slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds" Bob Marley
What’s your six-word story?
It's really in between: "Oh I'm in there like swimwear" and "Knowledge is power, power is freedom" because they are both statements I live by.
Complete this sentence: In 5 years, you will find me ...
In 5 years you will find me cruising down the street in my six four. No, I'm playing lol. In 5 years I can see myself setting my future up exactly the way I want. I'm not entirely sure what I want to do as a career exactly, but I am certain that I want to be able to have multiple streams of income so that I can essentially profit while I sleep. That could be through real estate, stock investments, start up business shareholding, etc. I just want to make sure that I am financially free to do as I please in the next 5 years. I definitely do not want to be under loads and loads of debt.