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.