Born in Philadelphia to parents from the great depression era, Michael [Mike] Major seemed destined for intergenerational poverty.
But it was not to be. Although his parents were grade school dropouts and experienced Southern segregation first hand, their tenacity and a whole lot more afforded Mike a one way ticket out of poverty.
As a Software Development Manager for a major Wall Street firm [Susquehanna International Group], it is hard to imagine that Mike was a likely candidate for intergenerational poverty. He wears many other hats as his way of giving back, including Associate Pastor at Zion Baptist Church on North Broad Street.
Mike credits his escape from poverty to the following [five] foundations:
1. Quality education: There is general agreement that quality education is an equalizer. Experts say that adequate K-12 education is critical for students’ future achievement. “Education is a portable asset that unlocks opportunities.” said Mike.
2. Strong parental support: “My parents did not finish grade school. However, both insisted and ensured that I got an education…” Mike recalled. This strong parental support enabled Mike to build personal character for success.
3. Community anchor: Thanks to Ms. Clinton’s  bestselling book by the same title, most Americans are familiar with the African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child…” For Mike, it took Zion Baptist Church’s community. “Zion’s PEP program afforded me opportunities for SAT preparation and college tours…by the time I was a high school senior I knew which college I wanted to attend…” Mike remembered.
4. Dedicated teachers and administrators: Alfred Lubrano recently chronicled teachers “as first responders in the ongoing emergency of poverty…” [Phillynews.com—May 27th]. For Michael, it was Teacher Roslyn McCullough and Principal Benjamin Dickerson at Gillespie Junior High. “I owe gratitude to them. Ms. McCullough… worked with mom to move me to an academic track. Mr. Dickerson arranged to have me attend Central High…and eventually graduated from Temple University with a degree in Computer and Information Science.”
5. Divine Providence: The late Dr. James Montgomery Boyce once said that he believed in predestination; but did not understand what in the foreknowledge of God that determines predestination. [In part] Mike credits his success to “the grace of God” – although he was quick to acknowledge that Divine providence is no substitute for personal resilience and hard work.