All Michael Mingo needed was for someone to believe in him. While growing up in the South Bronx he was often the victim of bullying, had few friends, and struggled with life at home. As a result he had little if any self-confidence. During his sophomore year at Bronx Collegiate Academy, teachers began seeing the promise inside him and provided the mentorship he so desperately needed. Their support led to him consider a career in law and gave him the courage to apply to Onondaga Community College, a school far from home. The OCC Admissions people whom he interacted with made a big impression on him. "Knowing the College showed that amount of interest in me before I even entered a classroom was a real boost to my confidence and made want to work even harder."
When he started class in the fall of 2014 Mingo found his Criminal Justice professors to be equally supportive. They also held him accountable for his day-to-day work and helped him think about his future. "I credit much of my success to Professors Jessica Field and Pete Patnode. They provided me with a good understanding of how the criminal justice system works. They also pushed me to mature into a professional, develop a resume, network, and identify what area of criminal justice I wanted to pursue." A defining moment was when he was voted president of OCC's Criminal Justice Club. "I had finally accomplished something that was more than my immediate self. I finally had the opportunity to stand for something that I had a passion for which was my intellectual development in the criminal justice system. During his tenure as president Mingo would routinely encourage fellow students to network with professionals, learn about the criminal justice system, and develop solutions to improve systems.These steps led to the foundation for a career in advocacy.
Mingo earned his Criminal Justice degree from OCC in 2016. He followed that with a bachelor's degree from Roberts Wesleyan College and is now studying law at Pace University. "I want to be an advocate for people who deserve a second chance. Many people I grew up with were just like me. They were exposed to circumstances well beyond their control, were desperate for acceptance, and didn't have the most favorable outcome. They were judged by a system that only saw the product of their life and didn't consider their life circumstances."
This summer Mingo is working as a Legal Intern at Neighborhood Defender Service in Manhattan, helping provide legal representation to those who can not afford it. He also started a nonprofit organization, "Together We Can," which offers education, support, and services to inner-city civilians. Together We Can's goal is to encourage people to become more active in their communities through politics and community service. Mingo also hosts a podcast which can be found on iTunes titled, "Unraveling The Truth USA."