Richard Cross: Crazy enough to change the world
"I believe that if you are crazy enough to change the world, you just might do it," Richard Cross told Outlook. Despite the feeling that everything in his life is working against him, he has placed himself in a position to do just that.
Cross is now a professor, mentor, public speaker and author.
He recently started a foundation in the United States called Going Beyond Limitations Foundation, where they focus on cultivating a positive self-image in young, black males while helping them break preconceived barriers. There is also a Dress like a Success empowerment programme to mould and develop young men. However, right now, his aim is to give back to his home.
"My goal for the next three months is to sell 5,000 copies of my book, Going Beyond Limitations. Once I reach my goal, I will be corresponding with a few people in Jamaica to help me with selecting 10 students to award up to 25 to 50 per cent of their college tuition for the academic school year of 2018-2019."
He is making changes, but no one, not even Cross, believed that the little boy who attended Charlton Primary School in Alexandria, St Ann, would be such a success. He did not do well for most of his primary years, having to repeat grade six. Despite this, he still did not plan on giving up, not after seeing the struggles in his own family.
Cross was raised in a humble household, his mother was a helper and his father a farmer. Although they both worked, the income was not lucrative and there were days he did not even know if there would be dinner at home. His mattress was old clothes; playing games became his escape.
DETERMINED TO CHANGE
His circumstances were tough and seeing his own mother cry because she could not adequately provide for him and his siblings at times, was too much for even him to bare. It was because of her sacrifices that he dedicated his book, Going Beyond Limitations, to her.
Admittedly, he never recalled having particularly big or huge dreams; what he did know though, was that he wanted a change. After his second round in grade six, where he was eventually moved from the worst to the best grade six on the second time around, he went on to Aabuthnott Gallimore High School. Again, he struggled academically, but due to his success in track and field, he went on to G.C. Foster College. Getting from St Ann to St Catherine was expensive, and there were no vacancies on campus, but the principal enquired and there was a student, Mario Smith, who assisted him by turning his bed into a bunk bed, allowing Cross to spend time in his dorm.
"If that opportunity had not presented itself, maybe I would have stopped going to G.C. Foster because I did not have the money to keep going," he admitted. Academics was still a struggle for him, because he still believed himself to be average.
He moved from G.C. Foster College to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and from there he went on to Lincoln University, Missouri, in the US. This was another hurdle that he had to get over, because while running in the Miami Classics, representing the JCF, he was considered for a scholarship, until they heard his age - 24 years. The recruiting coach was walking away when he shouted at him, "If you want to know what someone does with an opportunity, give it to me!"
The coach turned back. He gave Cross the opportunity and the rest was history. He achieved a bachelors in criminal justice and a masters degree in sociology. As an undergraduate student for two consecutive years, he was the top student athlete. While studying sociology, he learnt how his own environment as a child impacted him academically.
He was willing to work, and as a professor, he hopes to impart to his students that, like him, their past does not determine their future, it is actually their willingness to work. They, too, can achieve anything.