I grew up poor, and spent a significant period of my early childhood in the Washington, D.C. foster care system. My sister and I were able to remain together during our time in foster care, and were even more fortunate to be adopted by a loving family. After I graduated from high school I enlisted in our U.S. Marine Corps and served for 8 years (2000-2008). I was honorably discharged and left active duty in 2008 having achieved the rank of Sergeant (the best rank in the U.S. Marine Corps!)
My 8 years of Marine Corps service were extremely challenging and immensely rewarding. The military provided me with many of the opportunities that I find myself fighting for now: guaranteed healthcare for all, accessible and highly subsidized childcare, job security with consistent pay raises, fully subsidized education, to name a few. I completed my bachelor's degree in Business Management in 3 years (attending evening and weekend courses) from 2004-2007 while simultaneously fulfilling my responsibilities as an active-duty U.S. Marine Corps Non-Commissioned Officer. During this time I was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. By the time I finished my second enlistment in 2008 I was admittedly disillusioned by the fact that I'd lost friends and neighbors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I wasn't convinced that our involvement in those wars were worth the sacrifices that they and their families had made.
After completing my military service I completed a post-baccalaureate, pre-medical program at Brandeis University. There I met my incredible wife, Meegan. I went on to attend veterinary school at The Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University where I graduated with my DVM and M.S. degrees and Meegan attended medical school at The University of Massachusetts Medical School (our public medical school that is a renowned center for medical education, biomedical research and medical care) and graduated with her MD and MPH (master in public health) degrees.
I have been fortunate to get to the point where I am. I worry that a foster child today won't have the opportunities that I had, and won't be given the chance to achieve the potential that every child is capable of realizing with love, support and resources.
Meegan and I have accumulated a staggering amount of student loan debt to get to where we are (hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of student loan debt): we are both children of working class parents and we had to absorb the full cost of attending graduate school. We know the reality of student loan debt, and the immense stress that it can cause. With that said we have a beautiful daughter who is enjoying a very different childhood from the one that I experienced. She lives in a safe community, attends daycare here in Woburn and loves going to the playground at Goodyear Elementary School. This is a tremendous source of pride for me as a father: that Meegan and I are able to raise our children in a thriving community, and provide them with a better childhood than the one that I had. I wish this for every family in our communities here in Woburn and Reading and throughout our great commonwealth.