Marcus Wade-Prince is a rising college sophomore and member of Education Reimagined’s Board of Directors. Before college, Marcus attended Eagle Rock School—a residential learner-centered environment “serving adolescents [from across the country] who are not thriving in their current situations, for whom few positive options exist, and who are interested in taking control of their lives and learning.”
After graduating from Eagle Rock, he was invited back to participate in EagleServe—“a two-day flurry of service-learning activity” that occurs every trimester the week before new residents arrive. Eagle Rock offered to cover Marcus’s airfare if he wrote a poem that featured EagleServe’s theme for the trimester, freedom. Marcus wrote a poem titled, “Freedom from Knowing” and was gracious enough to share it with the Education Reimagined team. He also accepted our invitation to explore more deeply what the poem means to him and his growth as a young person.
Freedom from Knowing
I have been searching
Changing up key words
plugging in to find what I am missing
No surprise maps can’t navigate me
There’s no suggestions found
I remain lost
Daft to my own void
I have learned like a canvas
Being painted by life to no avail
Art is undone until that last stroke
I am hopeful
Hope Filled like following a rainbow to see
magic on the other side
We doubt cause we know
Until we don’t
So it’s true until we learn
Fear for lack of
So how to be blank
Free from the weight of knowing
See with your gut through feeling
Open up your fibers
Become more than a screen meant to be
Colored by another’s vision
Or seen through completely
Tossed aside because you don’t welcome their thoughts
With happy conformity
Mistakes is what makes life more colorful
You may get splashed with some blues
Traumatized by sudden reds
Splattered with dark spots that just don’t fade
But you hoped
And brought the yellows along
to tone out the greys
“The truth is most of us discover, where we are headed
When we arrive” —Bill Watterson
See with your mind
And know with your soul
The winding path that leads to freedom
A Conversation with Marcus Wade-Prince
Q: How has this “freedom from knowing” idea been relevant to your own life?
Marcus: When I was attending Eagle Rock, I was exposed to so many different opportunities that have allowed me to live my life how I choose to now. Their system empowered me to make things a reality, rather than leaving me thinking: They’re not going to allow it, so why should I even ask or bother trying to make it come true?
I took this core lesson and, over the past year as a college freshman, it’s been even more powerful. Things that I never thought of doing before—like being invited to be on Education Reimagined’s Board of Directors, interning at Workspace Education, and being offered a job to be a nanny—continue popping up. And, for example, I never thought of myself as someone who could take care of children, but just being free from thinking I could never take care of children—like it was a fact—has helped me believe there’s very little I can’t do. So, while I declined the nanny position, it wasn’t just because I made an assumption about my own abilities or life trajectory.
Q: How have you seen this idea of “freedom from knowing” translate into your academic experience in college?
Marcus: College is way different than Eagle Rock. I’ve discovered there’s a lot that I still need to learn. But, Eagle Rock prepared me to see people, including myself differently—no matter what point we’re at in life, we’re always changing. It’s crazy.
One of the most influential conversations I had over the past year was about the relativity of time. The individual I was speaking with said, “Time isn’t a fact.” Rather than sticking with what I believed—time is just time—I kept myself open to allow a deeper conversation to be had. And, it’s true, time is different depending on your space. It’s really interesting. But, keeping that idea of “freedom from knowing” allowed me to learn more about that and how time is actually perceived.
Q: What do you think is important about having that type of curiosity towards people?
Marcus: It gets you away from stereotyping individuals or communities of people. You don’t go into a situation thinking, “Oh, it’s going to be the same like before.” You go in thinking, “I need to learn about everyone as an individual and learn about their culture and the way they communicate.” Rather than going in feeling as though you already know the situation or know the “kind” of person that you’re going to meet, you go and meet them without any expectations—staying in the moment.
Q: What would you suggest to others who might recognize they themselves are always changing but are a little fearful of what that means?
Marcus: I would first say it absolutely is scary. It’s scary for me to think sometimes I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring and there’s a lot of questions around that. But, my suggestion is just to embrace it. Treat it like any new challenge. At first, you might think it’s too difficult. You might say to yourself, “I’m never going to be able to make this change.” But, the more you get away from thinking you can’t do it (and so, never start); the more you just go for it, embrace it, and see what happens. You’ll find yourself always moving forward in life. Keep moving forward and embrace the change.
One more thing. Although the change might be weird and different, it’s meant to be. It will bring you renewed hope because you will be presented with new challenges and opportunities you would have never had access to, if you were remaining stagnant.
Q: When did you begin diving so deeply into your self-reflection and reflecting on the behaviors of others?
Marcus: During my final trimester at Eagle Rock, I really started doing some self-reflection because there were so many questions in front of me. I had no idea where I was going next. I never thought college would be an option for me, but now it was. And, although that was supposedly a straightforward pathway, there were still so many questions I was unsure about. I actually had to leave college early during the first semester of my freshman year because I felt so stuck.
I used that time to reflect and look deeper into what matters to me. My transition from Eagle Rock to college wasn’t like what most kids experience. Normally, you have a few months between graduating high school and starting college. For me, I had five days.
If I’d had time to reflect a bit, go home, spend time with my family, and ground myself a little better before I left for college, I think my first year would have been different.
Q: As you explore what’s on the horizon, who do you value most when looking for support to help answer these big questions?
Marcus: My mom is my foundation. I don’t know where I would be without her. I also value my friends and the people I’ve met over the past year while attending school in Connecticut. When I’m dealing with a hard decision, I’ll talk to all of them about it, and they’ll give me different perspectives to consider. For me, it’s not necessarily one voice that matters but a variety of voices that can create a full picture of what each choice could actually look like if I moved forward with it.
Q: Shifting the conversation, what has being on Education Reimagined’s Board of Directors meant to you?
Marcus: When I was asked, I knew I definitely wanted to join. It made me feel like I was a part of something bigger and making a difference beyond my local community. I feel really valued.
Being invited to join the board also made me realize I have talents and skills I never really thought were talents or skills. I’ve always been a welcoming person. It just comes naturally. But, I never thought that would be something others valued about me.
Another example of this came when I started my internship at Workspace Education last year, a connection I made thanks to my involvement with Education Reimagined. Cath Fraise (the Founder and Executive Director of Workspace) loved my ability to take in a bunch of information and paraphrase it for others so they could better understand what was said. She said that was a big reason she hired me. I never thought that was a talent, but it turns out that is a really good skill to have.
I’m so grateful to be a part of all this.