How do you want to leave your impact on the world?
I want to help as many people as possible through education. I want to inspire people and help them know that they can do anything.
What is your story? What doesn't your resume tell us about you?
I am a transgender man. I came out in 2016 with many mixed reactions, but I know this is the only path I can take for me to be happy in my life. That being said, it is absolutely terrifying sometimes; especially when you don't know what bathroom you should go to or if you're going to be safe visiting certain places. This becomes a huge issue for me, since I want to return to Africa and build a school for my children there, but they knew me before I started transitioning, so I'm not sure if I will be able to go there as Erik or not. Either way, I want to return and help them.
Describe your dream job or career.
Being in charge of a program that is doing something to help people (especially through education); such as building schools and teaching, or working with refugees and teaching\helping them, etc.
Tell us about your leadership experiences.
I've been a manager at several restaurants. I am leading a research project right now at NCSU studying the evolution of baculum in mammals. I am very independent and able to lead any situation, which I demonstrated while teaching in Zambia. I was put in front of 25 students that could not understand me very well, and I ended up teaching them for a whole semester and I feel we all learned a lot and overcame many barriers.
Describe a personal experience that has directly or indirectly influenced your career path.
Something I've found is that every failure or rejection has led to something better.
What is the biggest take-away and/or favorite part of your GREEN Program experience?
The GREEN Program was my first time on a plane, out of the country, and on my own in the world. I had always dreamed of visiting Iceland, but never thought I actually would, especially as just a kid from some small town in North Carolina. My participation in the GREEN Program has spurred a love of travel and of new experiences in me. I now know that I will never be satisfied if I settle down.
Tell us about your Capstone project experience and your journey, your team, the ideation and implementation.
I came up with an idea for a 2 in 1 trash bag that could be used for both trash and recycling in the same can. My team developed this idea and build a very rough prototype to go along with it. Our team worked really well together, even though none of us were engineering students. We did face the issue of how it would actually be produced, but given the time and team we had I feel we came up with a good outline for the business model.
How will you use this experience to advance your personal goals?
This experience is helping advance my personal goals by giving me the confidence I needed to travel the world and go after my dreams. If I had not attended the GREEN Program, I'm not sure when I would have decided to venture out of my comfort zone.
Where and When would you go in a time machine? Why?
Hopefully to the future where we can actually build star ships like in Star Trek, because I feel my true calling is to be a star ship Captain.
You're hosting an intimate dinner party. Select 3 figures you would invite (dead or alive, fictional or non-fictional; can't be friends or family).
Jane Goodall, Batman, Nelson Mandela
Is there a documentary or book that really changed the way you thought about something, or motivated you in a particular way?
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss helps me remember to never give up.