education, so they required me to work
in a glass factory like they did, doing very
strenuous manual labor and swing shifts.
There was a big heat wave that summer
on the East Coast, and there was no air
conditioning in the factory, and people
were literally passing out. And my parents
were like, you’re not going to take your
education for granted, so understand that
if you don’t do well, you may end up in one
of these factories like we worked in.
Q: And did you go to an Ivy League school?
A: Harvard was like hitting the jackpot.
Being from Pottstown, there was almost a
presumption of incompetence. I remember
playing [high school] basketball one time,
and the opposing team was chanting,
“We’re going to college, we’re going to
college,” and [implying] that people from
Pottstown can’t go to college.
But as soon as I set foot on Harvard, I felt
like that presumption switched. You have
an automatic presumption of credibility
and competence and intelligence. To step
into that vibrant, intellectual community
with the world’s most brilliant minds both
teaching you and sharing the classroom
and the dining halls and dorm rooms with
you, it was unreal.
I met my wife there. She was actually
[planning] to go to either Stanford or
Dartmouth, and she visited Harvard’s
campus—this was sort of a favor, I think,
to her mom—and when I saw her, it was
like, no, you’ve got to come here. We hit it
off. Long story short, she came to Harvard
and we dated throughout, and then
she worked at the National Basketball
Association for three years. Then she went
back to business school and became really
passionate about education. Now she
works at an education technology company
called Amplify Education.
Q: How was your experience at Harvard
different from the kids with more affluent
A: There was a job called dorm crew. Dorm
crew was the best-paying job on campus
during my tenure there, but it required you
to clean bathrooms and sweep downstairs.
So I ate my humble pie. It wasn’t fun to be
at such a prestigious university and doing
some of the cleaning, but it was part of my
financial aid package. I definitely had to
spend time earning my keep.