Q: So that's when you decided to go into the education field?

A: Not immediately. Three years later, my mother died. She was a single mom who raised us while working as a waitress. So there I was, at the age of 39 and I had just buried my family. I found myself wondering what happened to these people that I loved so much? At that point, I decided I wanted to do something different with my life. And the schools that had so failed my brother were a good place to start.

Q: What had you been doing?

A: I really wanted to go into politics full-time (after college). But it was a difficult time to be a progressive in this country and I didn't buy into the Reagan-era propaganda. But then came a case of good timing. My first job right out of college was as an advance person for the U.S. Olympic Torch Relay Committee for the 1984 Olympics. I went to virtually every state in the nation and really got to see how people lived, especially in the South. I grew to love this country, despite what was happening in Washington. I kept a journal of my experiences. I submitted some of my journal entries to a publisher and they gave me a six-figure ($125,000) advance to turn the journal entries into a book.

Q: After your struggle through college, getting that advance must have seemed like a slice of heaven.

A: Yes, by the age of 25, I was a success, which in retrospect only served to point up the differences in my path and my brother's path. After the Olympic Torch Committee, I worked full-time in the political arena. I worked on the Gary Hart for President campaign in both 1984 and 1988. I campaigned for Bruce Babbitt and also for Michael Dukakis.

Q: What did you do for these campaigns?

A: I was an advance man, what they call a crowd-builder. My job was to find people mostly young people to come to rallies. I would go to a city several days ahead of the candidate.

Q: You also served a stint as a television news reporter on a show called "The Crusaders." How did that come about?

A: I sold a television show to Disney aimed at young voters and titled "Call to Action." Disney picked up the show and it was to air on KCAL (Channel 9 in Los Angeles). But Disney owned KCAL and was also trying to buy ABC. So the company froze all new productions for KCAL, including that show. They "lent me out," so-to-speak, for this show called "The Crusaders." I was like a young Gen-X reporter. I was making good money. However, then my mother died. I did some soul searching and I realized I felt unfulfilled.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.