I was born 24 October 1968 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. When I was nine, my parents (both of whom have now retired from over 30 years of teaching) moved my older sister, me and my younger brother to Tulsa, OK. In 1987, I graduated from Booker T. Washington High School and started my college career at Kentucky State University as an honors student in the Whitney Young Scholars Program. I worked hard enough in high school to receive academic, band, track and softball scholarships to KSU.
Once my two years were up in the honor's program, I moved into the regular university but found it very un-challenging. My high school had been a magnet school, and I'd taken Advanced Placement classes most of the time I was there, so much of what I was learning in the regular university was information to which I'd already been exposed in high school. In the fall of 1989, I pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., but even that achievement wasn't enough to motivate me to stay and drudge through educational content that wasn't challenging my intellect. After three years at KSU, I made the decision to transfer to Howard University.
It was the best higher education decision I could have made for myself, although I had to leave all of my scholarships behind at KSU. After my first semester at Howard, I did do well enough to get awarded an academic scholarship, but it didn't cover most of my expenses. Even with working three part-time jobs and going to school full-time, I managed to amass $30,000 in student loans to finance the rest of my undergraduate degree. The best two internships I had when I was a student at Howard was one for the Democratic National Committee and one for the Anti-Defamation League, both of which were a direct result of my major.
Despite working so much, I was able to graduate Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in African-American Studies and a minor in American History. Because of my mastery of grammar, spelling and punctuation, I was able to get a job with the National Captioning Institute in Vienna, VA. I didn't find out until about seven months into my employment that I was the only Live Display Captioner on staff who didn't have a degree in English. I didn't even realize that was one of the prerequisites for the job. I simply did well enough on the written examination to qualify for the position. I think it's one of the reasons I take these things so seriously now.
In 1996, I moved back to Oklahoma and became an eighth-grade American Studies teacher. I loved that job. I loved my students. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I knew it was my calling. I'd planned to teach for 30 years, like my parents, but I learned that the Army was paying off student loans. Since I had $30,000's worth, and I didn't want to take 15 years to pay them off, I decided to enlist.
At the age of 30, I became an Information Systems Operator Analyst for the next six and a half years, and the Army paid off my loans in the first three. I was stationed at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, Fort Gordon and Fort Benning in Georgia, Taegu in South Korea and finished my active duty commitment at the Pentagon in Washington, DC.
After leaving active duty, I became a corporate computer applications, web languages and web works trainer. My father had the foresight to get my siblings and me involved with computers when I was in middle school, so I've been working with computers since I was 14. That's actually why I chose to work with computers when I joined the Army.
I published my first novel, The Pride, in 2011 and a couple of long-shorts and a few compilations followed thereafter. Aside from my axioms project, I have several other writing projects in the works.
I'm fortunate in that I can make a living sitting at home in my pajamas doing web work and/or writing, and I also teach web design/development classes online and started creating wooden jigsaw puzzles and other crafts a few years ago. You can see some of my web work at https://hlwes.com.