I did eventually drop out of high-school and earn my GED. At 17, I was restless. I couldn’t understand how learning polynomials and quadratic equations would help me with anything but the standardized tests that I loathed. I enjoyed my English classes, but Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes seemed so far away from the crime-ridden blocks I walked through on my way home from school. I knew that learning this seemingly irrelevant material might help with college admissions, but I wasn’t sure how it would help my friends and neighbors eat at night or prevent my classmates from getting shot on the playground that afternoon. At 17, living in the South Side of Chicago, those were my main concerns.