Monday, September 9, 2019

We had Toastmasters in class today. It was an awesome class. We talked about all sorts of things; we even got to say things like what type of animal we would be if we could choose. Some people said they would choose to be tigers, owls, lions, bears, dogs, etc. Toastmasters is a very cool class, and you can learn a lot of stuff about people.

Today in Toastmasters, we spoke on Project #1, which was the icebreaker speech – our first speech. We were able to let loose and talk about what we wanted to talk about that way. We can get comfortable talking to a group. Another brother gave his speech and it was pretty interesting, because he talked about family, friends and work. Then the next person’s speech was awesome as well. His presentation was about life and some of the things he believes in. The thing that he said that stood out to me the most was that without God, nothing is possible. Everybody did their jobs well and made the day the best it could be. It didn’t matter whether if it was the grammarian, timer, table topics master, listening master or even the “ah” counter, they did their best to keep us entertained. Another successful day here at PEP.

Yancy B. (a.k.a. “Dexter”)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Today was one of the most interesting days of our class because we were able to learn how to maintain a budget, which is something that will be very useful for us and our families once we are released. We were advised not to wait until our finances get out of hand before we try to control ourselves. If we can identify our spending problems up front, that will give us a huge advantage. We also need to target the percentage of our total income for necessities, such as our food and housing; insurance, car, credit cards; and savings, including 401k, IRA and brokerage accounts. We also found out that there are many internet sites that are helpful, such as, which will give us a more realistic percentage for today’s economy. We were also told to look out for consumer traps, such as the bogus sale strategy, guilt sales and impulse creation’s “credit discount,” which America relies on to lure customers. We also were given information on how much savings can impact our lives later in life. Something as small as saving $3 a day in a basic savings account with earnings of up to 7% can really add up over time.

We were given a lot of insight on how to repair our credit as well. For instance, we should look for a credit union that has a loan builder program, go to and select a secured credit card that has no fees, or find a bank that has a “second chance” account option. Before we were dismissed, we were given additional financial websites as well like, and, just to name a few. That’s why today’s class was considered one of the most interesting days we’ve had so far.

Phillip B. (a.k.a. “Uncle Elroy”)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

We all took a moment of silence to remember what happened to our country 18 years ago today before our “test day” began in our entrepreneurship class. Lots of last minute cramming early in the morning, and lots of brothers helping each other study. Our class emcee, Mr. Rice, gave us a very nice quote to start out the class: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

Once we got our two tests done, we had the privilege of hearing Scott S. teach us our second week of entrepreneurship class. One of the great things about this class is that it gets everyone involved one way or another. That makes learning easier and much more fun for everybody. A lot of people were able to ask their questions. There are plenty of times that we wouldn’t even have thought about asking these questions. We always have a chance to learn something new.

Scott S. did an excellent job leading our class today. He gave perfect answers to questions that were asked and also gave us some great insights on our business plans. Afterward, we had one of our peer educators come up and go over basic business information. It may seem like we are getting a lot thrown at us in class, but it’s well-delivered which makes it easier to receive. It was just another day here at PEP. We all need to prepare for our upcoming tests that we will take next week.

Brent B. (a.k.a. “Pinocchio”)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Like any other day that we have class, we were up bright and early, ready to go to the PEP classroom, where we are able to escape from behind these walls and into a different environment. At around 8:30 a.m., they finally called us out to the PEP room. While in class, we learned, danced, laughed and most importantly learned something new. One of our brothers gave us some great inspirational words that were really motivating us to push ourselves even further. He said, “Don’t be in competition with one another. Be in competition with yourself so you can be better than the person you used to be.” We also watched some videos that gave us a better understanding on study methods.

Last but not least, they gave us our Venture Capital Plan (VCP) assignment, which is a two-and-a-half to three minute pitch that we will present to a panel of executives at next month’s event. This will be by far our hardest task in this program yet. We’re going to have to face our biggest fear: public speaking. This is where Toastmasters is going to play a big factor.
We prayed out and returned to the dorms and continued with our study sessions. Later that afternoon, like every other Thursday, we had accountability groups. We went over “innovation” this week. We do that so that we can continue to remind ourselves of PEP’s 10 Driving Values and continue to live by them. We are truly blessed to be around a group of men with the same positive mentality who are devoted to change.

Armando B. (a.k.a. “Double Rainbow”)


“I never ran my train off the track, and I never lost a passenger.”
~ Harriet Tubman

I found an interesting book on the Dayroom table and decided to read it. In doing so, I found this interesting quote. These words were uttered by Harriet Tubman in Ann Petry’s book called Conductor on the Underground Railroad. This quote seems true because Harriet, who was born a slave, decided to become more than her consequences and rose to accomplish great things. A couple of her many accomplishments include freeing over 300 slaves by going back into slave states and bringing them out a few at a time (when she had a $60,000 bounty on her head) and offering her services as a nurse and a spy during the Civil War. Rubbing elbows with John Brown and Wendell Phillips, from Fredrick Douglas to Colonel Montgomery and Cedric Gilmore, who commanded the department of the south.

This quote means several things to me, but I will focus on one. The track to me represents goals that culminate in achieving the ultimate goal, which for me is retiring with financial security. The passengers are family, friends or virtually anyone who wants to come along for the ride, because I am willing to share the keys to freedom. Wisdom is useless if it is not shared. Just as the slaves had to walk themselves to freedom, we must apply the keys to success if we wish to find our True North.

Tyrone B. (a.k.a. “Red Hot”)