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How Obama changed the course of my career

Thank you, President Obama. You showed me that it possible to be more than what people expect of me.

You see, growing up, people would tell me that I should play basketball. Given my height — I am six feet six inches tall — I understood their logic.

I heard that song, “you should play basketball, Terry,” so much that I came to believe that all I could be was a basketball player. I read books, watched games and practiced moves of those basketball legends I respect: Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal.

I left Burundi, an East-African country, for Canada in 2007. My friends, family and I all thought that with hard-work and a dedication, my dreams of being a basketball player would become reality.

However, the election of Barack Obama in 2008 put a crack in those dreams. A suppressed aspiration was revived: I have always wanted to be a journalist.

At my high school, Notre Dame, I sat with my academic counselor who asked what I wanted to be. With my thick accent, I answered that I wanted to be a journalist.

Despite the historic election, for some reason, it was unfathomable to me that Americans had voted for a black person to lead the nation. So I kept my basketball dream alive.

In 2011, I got on my high school basketball team and also a gym membership at the Jewish Community Centre. I put basketball before everything; I would even skip school and spend the day at the JCC working out.

Being a journalist had moved from my unconsciousness to my consciousness as I applied to the University of Ottawa for Journalism, to later be told by my academic counselor that there is no such program the university. I ended up applying for the Public Relations program.

The re-election of President Obama in 2012, shattered my basketball dreams; I realized that I could be more than just a basketball player.

My basketball books were replaced by magazines: Time, Foreign Affairs, The Economist and The Atlantic. Political figures and news anchors substituted the aforementioned basketball legends. Sport networks were changed to news networks.

I admit, it hasn’t been easy, but if the United States can elect Barack Obama twice, then I believe that I am capable to be what I want to be and not what other people want me to be.

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