“Know who you are, what you stand for, and what you are here to do.” Maverik, the Jam’n 94.5 Boston radio DJ, offered this meaningful advice to a group of about 60 students and their teachers in the Cambridge Rindge and Latin (CRLS) Media Café one late January morning. Audience members had gathered for the first presentation in the “Life NOW” speaker series, sponsored by Cambridge School Volunteers (CSV), where they got the chance to meet Maverik, the celebrated local media personality, and to learn about his pathways to success.
Deandra Williams, Director of High School Volunteers at CSV, created the speaker series to give freshmen through seniors the chance to hear how notable community members overcame personal challenges, seized professional opportunities, and ultimately came to thrive in their dream job. “Every student can connect with their own interests and passions,” Williams says. “The purpose of ‘Life NOW’ is to help students, especially those who are facing challenging circumstances, to overcome obstacles, deal with whatever life throws at them, be responsible and accountable, and find success for themselves.”
At the event, Maverik shared his own story, describing how he grew up in Melrose, where, as the child of a West Indian family, he was one of the few students of color in his high school class, and sports, music, and art were his passions. A very strong student, Maverik said his parents expected him to become a doctor and lawyer, and when he got into Boston College on scholarship, initially he decided to take the pre-med route. But at the end of freshman year, his report card showed an A, B,C, and a D. “I was scared to bring it home,” the DJ half-joked. Realizing he needed to find a different major that would motivate him—“You have to be really engaged in the classes you are taking”—Maverik soon chose communications, and then, as he declared, “I was back!” Along with, once again, excelling in his classes, Maverik served on BC’s programming council, bringing top acts like the legendary hip-hop band Outkast and the comedian Dave Chapelle to campus; Maverik also went on tour with the College’s gospel choir, Voices of Imani. Today, Maverik recommends traveling as a way to “open your horizons,” telling his CRLS audience: “The more you get exposed to different ways of life, the more accepting you are. This gives you empathy—put yourself in someone else’s shoes, really care, form meaningful relationships….That’s what the world needs, especially now.”
According to this popular broadcaster, “moving outside your comfort zone” is also one of the best ways to achieve personal and professional success: “The best advice I got in college came from one of my teachers who said, ‘Ask the girl to dance.’ Putting yourself out there is the only way to find out. Hearing ‘no’ isn’t the worst thing in the world. But sometimes we get so caught up in nerves and self-doubt that we don’t give ourselves the chance to flourish.”
With his own growing self-confidence, after graduation, Maverik determined to “aim for the stars.” First, he went to Brooklyn, where he wrote for a hip-hop newspaper. Next, he landed an internship at Boston’s Jam’n 94.5, where he was never too proud to get coffee for the station’s then resident DJ, earning the trust of his co-workers and “proving myself.” Eventually, Maverik got his own “first real opportunity”—writing the questions for an on-air interview with the renowned wrestler The Rock. At CRLS, Maverik reflected on these early experiences: “Sometimes you have to humble yourself and do things you HAVE to do, so eventually you can do the things you WANT to do.”
Today, Maverik loves what he does—from anchoring Jam’n 94.5’s daily 3-8 pm drive time to DJing around town, interviewing music’s hottest new artists, and even creating a remix for the New England Patriots. One day, Maverik says he may move into artistic management by starting his own entertainment company, and he has already begun to explore acting. Wherever his path takes him, Maverik hopes that he and each of us continues to: “Follow your passion. Believe in yourself. Work hard no matter what the task. Seize opportunities.” Do these things, “and great things can happen.”
In March, Dr. James Keith Motley, Chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Boston, will come to CRLS for the next presentation of “Life NOW.” We at Cambridge School Volunteers look forward to welcoming the students, teachers, and the high school community again then!