Richard’s path to higher education had its own particular challenges. The now sociology scholar grew up in public housing in Wilmington, a neighborhood in South Los Angeles, where he witnessed poverty and gang violence from an early age. At 17 he was incarcerated, but soon realized he needed to turn his life around. Inspired by “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” he earned his GED, took community college correspondence courses and read everything he could get his hands on.
He converted to Islam, enrolled in the Tayba Foundation distance education program and completely changed his life around. After serving nearly 20 years behind bars, Richard finally earned his freedom. He worked at Tayba for a period before enrolling in SF State with help from Project Rebound. In addition to his sociology coursework, he works for the Redwood City Public Library.