Oromo Community of Minnesota

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Human perseverance overcomes daunting odds


A review of Going from the Projects to PhD: Transcending my geography

By Hassen Hussein 

Guest Commentator


In this riveting memoir, Dr. Yvette Pye weaves a compelling story of how “a ghetto bastard,” abandoned by addicted parents and wayward siblings, goes on to earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious University of Minnesota, joining a club of about a dozen African American geographers. She does this within the context of her native Chicago engulfed by a multidimensional crisis and neighborhoods decaying from the scourge of drugs, criminality, and joblessness. Without being prescriptive, she distills the secrets to her triumph over adversity into five short bits of advice: diligence, resilience, agency, an active life as “sedentary life equals death,” and embracing silence. The book began with a bang in the unlikeliest of places: the prologue. It opens with a vivid portrayal of a frantic scene of senseless urban violence where the young Pye confronts “the harsh realities” of her geography as a close friend — Corey — lay dead, an innocent victim of gang warfare. Continue Reading →

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