WWL>Topics>>7-18-14 3:10pm Angela: with local Yale-bound high schooler Leonard Galmond

7-18-14 3:10pm Angela: with local Yale-bound high schooler Leonard Galmond

Jul 18, 2014|

Angela sits down with Leonard Galmond, a New Orleans high school graduate who has overcome great odds and now heads to Yale.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well if you are -- of hearing stories of young man who were wasting their lives on a path of crime. Who have little value of life and no motivation to change you're not alone. And you were going to love meeting our next guest. Leonard Gelman was born to a thirteen year old mother. His absent father was killed during a drug deal and as the oldest of six kids he became a family leader. After Katrina Leonard ended up at one of the worst high schools in the city Colin high school. But even in the chaos of at all when there were days that not enough food Leonard Gelman succeeded. He had the love of his spam link he was Smart Annie worked hard. He found a passion and a gift in art. And made the choice never to get on the path of crime. In just a few weeks Leonard will be leaving New Orleans to start college. At Yale University. His story is one we all need to hear. And that is why I am so thrilled that you were sitting in the studio with me. I cannot tell you how long I've read it to me I read the original newspaper article on you and I was just. -- So thrilled for you. You have an extraordinary. Story and you are so open about it. That we wanna hear. Even you recognized that your beloved mother having -- thirteen years old. -- your father being a drug addict the odds were against. It's. Yeah he he he wasn't a gigantic he was home. He's so drug okay I'm sorry yeah drug dealer -- -- In it. It is interest in a given that try to think of this from a third person point of view like I'm just watching everything happen. It it would make an interest or so. What what was -- that got you through. I guess my mom I guess I don't I don't know. She. Handles every problem. Loosely a mostly loosely. Like no matter how bad. The problem is she excessive. The solution will comb or you know I eventually everything will work itself out soon. I think I kind of got them from -- I guess that helped. Mean. I don't stress too much about him a problem pledges. They'll work out eventually I just tried my best if you can do. Groh talked to us about growing up at eight you have now siblings you have five other my Brothers and sisters -- and your mom. -- and pitcher who lived really in what anybody would consider poverty. Here. Home. I wouldn't say my child who was too bad I mean. We'd have money but it. Still. Enjoyed life -- Dallas to a cute so I'd I'd play outside to. They must siblings. Went to school I mean. What more do we kidney to -- if you know have fun and enjoy yourself. That is very true but from from one I've read about some times. Money ran out you didn't have enough food the end of that. Did that happen though -- Put him in. It. I don't know it. There was just life we need to keep them. What else could you do besides. Get through it didn't deal with the news the way it -- The tell tell me about -- -- because I think that she's got to be pretty important thing home. She. Well like who we want to know about it exactly well it if she is -- sort of the core. She was the core of your life. And anybody would look at you like and say -- you're looking and saying I was a kid by golly I was having fun and my Brothers and sisters yeah but. You didn't have enough food sometimes -- electricity was cut off. -- -- Yeah it's tough things in in your mother was the person who studied the Shia. She own. I don't really know. How to describe her -- -- -- The mountain mama mama hides its. When -- like whenever I tried to. Talk about. Anything -- just explain it. I don't know how Adam really skidded across the people is it's just what it wise. I don't really know how to describe them. She's okay. That is okay I think sometimes. People like myself for anybody else to read the article people got to know you and understand. The life you've lived and where you're going which is so exciting. Think oh my gosh. And yet for you that was your life. So that was the norm. It was normal it felt normal mean. Well he's just another thing what exactly is normal but. So it would -- the norm basically. It was your norm Nelson mandala. You. It it seems that Katrina was sort of a turning point in so many lines mean it was devastating. At every level that we can think of now and you'll you'll stay home. Yeah we stayed home during the storm so we left the day after the storm. We actually walked across the river across the bridge and car. To the bus tour around New Iberia, Louisiana. The small town I think we stayed the show today from -- may be among the two before me Rome moved to Houston Texas. And then in Houston. You know we started living in east. And it was it was different it was way different because. A lot of different people hadn't seen I mean I had we had neighbors stay over for him and another country that I was new and he spoke a different language so. It all of that listening and in my school was no longer all black. Hit a lot of white BK it's had a lot of standing -- tooth. It is everyone's so I was. I don't know I was introduced into. An -- that the scope of the world like that. The size of it like it wasn't just my neighborhood back home. He was. A lot more then. Did you want to stay. In and you know I want to -- We. Yeah we wanted to we begin one -- Momma -- I guess she got out of me and so far away from home meanwhile -- his hometown. She want to come back so how did you all live it was your mother and and six if you. The end there was no well. We had. I had to step five to OK they weren't married but I usual model for like nine years. He's the father of her four -- escape itself. He was that to -- wasn't. -- I mean. Yeah Houston's probably the best. We haven't been awhile it was we. Know what it ended in Houston that you you really took up reading he has started. I don't really remember how much reunited before Houston but our -- outside -- read a lot -- Houston. And I think. That was because my teacher on the issue -- us in class and she made -- social fund. I just started reading them -- They -- never sent the gridlock where you a good student in new knowledge prior to the storm. Yeah I think so mean. How always done well suppose you. So I think that was a good student so you come back home onions. You end up that Cullen which was not a great school. It. Four I don't well yeah it was it wasn't ultimately blood. It's still had great people in it I mean I went there for my first three years a high school. So obviously -- I had to learn something it's not. But yeah it was it was a bad. I don't know how would you call that chaotic day was chaotic mean. I don't know really what felt that the schools in this city but. Like my same engineers. We own. Like the entire staff was fired and I don't middle school we will take office personnel teachers. And replace with new people. There were times when he had. A substitute teacher a series substitute teachers in the class like Martha to. So. Yeah I don't think -- the school was I don't know -- whoever was over the school who was running you know who. Upset. The way to school was. Ending they made to implement when I was sitting. We're gonna take a break and come back and we're gonna talk about. All of a sudden. He even learned -- from an uncle understand he had -- while the -- thought to draw Latvia. That and we're gonna that's sort of magic that happens in new. Stay with this is. We get to know a new friend Leonard to. Gelman financial under the -- you well. Leonard Gelman. A real treasure in our community. Grew up. Very poor in new -- says as many do and I think that's the whole point. Is that sometimes people take bad pass sometimes -- on the right path for whatever reason. Leonard Gelman is on a great path and it is now leading him now that he's graduated from high school to Yale University full scholarship. And we're gonna hear all about that it's just thrilling but you're you're being so kind of kind of talk about your life. Because people people understand poverty mean that intellectually look at poverty. But when it comes down to -- here's a family with six kids and there they run out of money at the end of the month for food or the electricity was turned off. That is another kind of reality. And so they look at someone like -- how did you get through that. You know were you afraid ever. Com. -- it was. I don't like. -- Legalizing the 1213. Let those around that time I started realizing. Exactly. How a situation like what our situation wasn't right so. It was used like during that time news. Mostly when. I wouldn't say overreacted to news that things but how I owned. And I reacted -- I guess. It's. It's hard to explain that. You many assignment there are those who will. When times are desperate. Do desperate things and and that may be why some -- one that wrote two crime. It is money. And you need money and the temptation had been out there. How did you -- -- back to momma she's she always. Mean I never felt like I had to do anything like that right. No matter how bad it got she found some solutions to like some solution to a problem so. I was never actually put staff for mean. Time to -- powered through. -- and that that was my next question I -- A lot of people. Regardless of of the economic status. Go through rough times and you kinda do have a mantra to yourself you know. I will get through this -- this is talent and do it did you ever say that as you were growing up in your teens. This is tough times but no one in my gonna say to myself to get through it. Well. It was home. None that was actually nothing haven't told myself exactly it was. More along the lines of home. It was it was it just the way -- it would. I didn't. This is an. Jonathan -- trying to play -- the stars here in at all it's in this is this is off. But it is the reality is if you did get through it in the hands you. In sort of a chaotic time for all of this post-Katrina. You end up at a high school that -- in your own words is chaotic too. And yet you're not. Taken to the streets and out which would have been easier route. -- not the best but an easier one maybe. You you had always been drawing that you went to a new class and I think that when you look at your life that must have been pivotal moment. You know I can do this. He -- that. Yet Ellis crazy thinking back in Manhattan going to -- as -- be. Doing what I'm doing now with our I don't think so. I mean before that class Seles. Just -- every mountain and he not only join the art class because I didn't want to take ban so. The mean -- I got into it had really good teachers should help a lot. And -- -- -- -- my best friends and class. It was basically a time hanging around for media. No just try stuff that's. Telling you but right off the bat one of your paintings. Was you know in an award. The -- in -- or I mean and so. I had a pain I was in this he sees -- exhibitions yet. Not this year but last year and up paint that -- in that our class was actually in one think it's like the second -- and haven't done. To hang in the CAC and that's a big deal but it really is a big deal. But. You know I just read the description of -- going art class and there's one easel. In again. You know not optimum environment but by golly you -- you know you make the best and I -- -- saying gee I'm at my best friends. And Venus. Are the class was still fun and and so. It wasn't until I actually went to no good that I got an idea of what a real art class supposed to be that was actually funded Brighton. You know but. So at the time I was it is happy to be. And that I think. That helped a lot too because it wasn't like I was stressing over Ottawa had this settlement that. You focus on which you do have seen me do it so. We have won easily. And I was using it. No problem. So now you are you're going into -- go out and you do have a wealth funded art class and they must have seen the gift that you. Room. -- I think so. Mean I had a lot I enjoyed the book. It. Right before then I had just Pena then he taught me how to paint. That too you know steps to follow when you start -- pain stuff like that news. I don't know I think you said -- course to being a professional artist right. Mean I think that was a -- the sole purpose of the school related to you know turning. To offer you some kind of pre professional training and -- I think the accomplished that -- Our our producer -- and -- we met earlier. So and I asked -- the question I wanted to ask tremendous did you always think you're gonna go to college. Yeah I always thought I was -- mean. I don't know my. I never had a reason not like I didn't see why not like -- -- I don't go to college while some of them do when I go and mean. It wasn't as if I thought. Well because it is because of that I can go. I'll always you know we'll go mean. And it happens to. And it happened do you remember kind of take this to the conversation you must've had a counselor teacher somebody said you know want. You need to apply to -- Yes so. I think this is really important I mean I don't know of people have got to put. -- college prep and you know the the people that work at their school they need a really big difference. And my college decision when I'm going. Pollock Collin college course in college prep your you know what we're gonna have to break and go to the New Yorkers I wanna hear this this is very uninteresting. -- there was colonized Coleman Colin. College prep in two different things in the same building yet to do and one that you on the direction stay with -- everybody as we get to know Leonard Gelman. Well we're talking with a very interesting young man Leonard Gelman. Who has really led sort of an extraordinary life growing up very poor in a big family. With love. But struggles. And yet through it all and -- again I'm as we started the show we hear too often. Young men dying. And young men. Not having a dream not having. Any orientation to to do something. And do you have just beaten all kinds of thoughts and you would be applauded for that as he gets ready to go to Yale. We were talking about after the -- got to. -- high school which was. Not a great school but before your senior year they opened on the second floor of the school. -- press. Yeah and that's when you switch to -- prep. Yes -- so it looked like originally it was normal college prep and not get a -- completely different school. But they took on a named Cohen canoeing -- you know Cohen building. Yes so much -- year I decided to switch schools and I want to corn college prep. And -- -- -- as soon as I got there was like. College like everywhere and -- that's all we talked about the so accused talked about. And I had really thought about college before that. He was just. Cause I'm gonna go to college is like at the twelfth grade -- that you do you go to college and so I didn't know what I need to do to applying. I didn't know what I need to do to apply for financially didn't. All this stuff it was and so on our our intelligence. It was a good decision basically. So there for a peaceful then truly to guide to the end we have to Pete who. Like two counselors. That. Handled college stuff so. There was a college counseling office she means is going to win say it like after school he had anything to do like college SC signal isn't working on. And and they. -- well I really hope they get paid well because they made they did a lot. The edited my car agencies. Taught me how to -- ecologists say youth. Trust me had a lot of help and appliance. And -- had to even thought of field before now Blanton who this. I don't know like now that I am accept it if it feels like a really big deal like I got into -- that time it was like. -- you know just another school in the list -- and I just had to do had to do to apply to out of school. -- -- industry's coolest name in front -- I had do you do. Would -- like with each one required Armenians say -- with the answers -- about. So. They help the London but was that essay you wrote for hale who was home. So. How to apply to the school don't like through a common. And there was one in general I -- you just write that he turned to all the colleges. And any school that they don't supplement to question the kind of I mean EMC's. But I homes so that this -- coming -- SA was. I wrote about my life. -- -- That are routed. Through an art piece that -- Now we're economic common app SA I didn't really know how to approach it like how -- The reader the person who's read -- -- -- take them into the story of my life. And make it sound interest I mean had that you have to be different when your plan college. As much of yourself as you can show is -- like that's really important. Because you need to give them a sense of who you are. And mark counselor mr. -- she known. Basically asking a lot of questions like no matter what I -- issues like why. Why do -- by and eventually we got down to something in. She told me a way I can introduce my essay I end up I ended up being ridden through. An art assignment. At the time -- working on this piece that no go. In 3-D was a sculpture of a -- -- elsewhere Cameroon. And I wrote about my life through that peace tour. Because when we were introduced. To project it. Who took the thing about stability instability. And to build the sculpture that rocks basically and I'm basically -- the process of working on a piece. Into my life story so my life. You know it hasn't been stable and kind of wrote about that so. I think I did a good job romance and then. It was all. Thanks -- -- paying interest as well. Well you also had good grades and you also had good a seat tees and -- very very lucky for -- to catch it. We're gonna take another break we're gonna come back and we're gonna find now. What lecture you most excited about if you have any fears -- long way from home stay with this will be right back. He is going to Yale he's earned it. And it is a thrill it's a thrill to -- somebody who. Who had a dream I mean not necessarily if you fail but you're going to college you have a passion with your art. And and it's very good that you would give tribute to some of the people with helped to along the way certainly your counselor and and your art teacher and Boca. And the Collin college prep and your mother. Very important if you're right people don't do this alone but you're going to be going off to Yale. And for any college -- living home that can be scary. Have you thought about that. I have and. Who is kind of -- whenever people ask me questions about how feel. It's hard to -- especially about like going off to college. It's mean I'm excited and and though. And it might be hard to just matchup. Not too worried about it any problem I have I can deal with -- Now have a lot of help. And New York him roommate should. You know Korean living in France -- like them to pick up a and sweaters. And but this is the suspect it's it's a big. Room New Orleans. To New Haven, Connecticut. Yeah I mean are the way -- didn't threw it is if I don't. Let myself know it's a big -- I just so. I'm just gone along with it and I'm trying to I'm trying not to. Really. You know like in just. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- it it is a -- I'm just trying to you know stay humble and try not to think about it. I understand exactly which as you can become so big center eyes shut up about with a complete its. That's okay. But. Your feeling confident -- always as somebody. We all know what you aliens are some big school is but don't forget your bringing something to. Those who -- for it. You're bringing talent you're gonna bring experiences. Mean. -- -- -- Numbering -- -- thing that's. -- actually the thing I'm looking forward to most. -- like meeting the different people when. Herein you know -- My life is different from yours and from anybody else's and as wanna hear that just. You know just to hear people stories. Though. What what has been the reaction of your family and friends. Very. Well I know for like my family you know -- everybody's happy. And they're excited and you know he would be happy and excited but I. My -- for the most part they. They don't look at it as a big deal I guess I didn't make it seem like a big deal I mean they. I mean everything -- still the same at home everybody. I don't think you. Get across -- like each of us until I actually we yeah. So I involve basically -- -- gone along as -- life is normal but. Still leave in the next month. Do you ever just look back very quickly and saying. I didn't do drugs I didn't go that route. The state of course. Not really see. For me. -- -- the things that never really felt like an option and so. I never really thought about it -- that's great. At this great and in just in our final minute here what Fisher ultimate dream. I have no idea that is. I don't know. Just to be happy I -- in. Didn't enjoy life mean. To be an artist into coming here now I want to be an artist. Then. I don't know. I like. Well Lou -- form of words again we don't have. It my biggest dream. Team. Is still out there you know that's just great you know we're gonna do land and if I'm still standing. We're gonna have you back in a year the -- and a follow up on Leonard's first year in jail. But people who have read this and know you are cheering you on and no he will be great if you already have. But much much success and happiness in your first year in college -- think you and congratulations. And we'll be right back. I just wanna say thank you to -- Gelman for opening up your life to us. Wish him nothing but wonderful things at Yale and again open invitation next year. We'll hear back from everybody have a great weekend.