Called to Serve

OCC student Maurice Brown is a United States Army Reservist. He missed the fall 2016 semester while serving at Guantanamo Bay.

Maurice Brown has returned from the experience of a lifetime, an experience which he believes has set him on his career path. “My call to action to serve was a call to action in itself to serve. It made me want to get into politics because there’s so much work to be done. The things which divide us can be torn down and bring us together.”

Brown was on track to graduate from OCC last December when he got “the call.” Brown is a U.S. Army Reservist. He was needed at Guantanamo Bay, a United States military prison. “I was part of the joint detention group. Our mission was to provide safe, humane, legal treatment in accordance with the joint task force.”

Brown reported for duty May 27, 2016. For the next eight months his life as an OCC student was on hold. It didn’t matter that he was a Communication major from Brooklyn, President of the Politics Club or a stand-up comic. It did matter to fellow soldiers that Brown was a delegate to Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “Soldiers are very opinionated. Everyone knew I was a Bernie Sanders delegate. I got some criticism along the way. Some was good natured, some wasn’t.”

Brown was in Guantanamo on election day and continued serving until the end of January. He returned to campus after the spring semester had begun and worked hard to catch up. “My professors were good to me. They really helped me with my transition.”

Brown (far right) meets with New York State Senator Dave Valesky along with OCC President Casey Crabill (far left) and student Chloe Hoffman.

His transition was about more than coursework. It also involved a significant change in lifestyle. “When you are in the military it’s right time, right place, right uniform. Everyone’s doing it. You come back to a college environment and people are late for class or turning in assignments late. To me, being late isn’t even an option. It’s an interesting dynamic to exist in both worlds.”

Since his return Brown has been an advocate for OCC, meeting with local State-level politicians who help determine how much funding the College will receive in the next budget. “It’s an interesting process. Politicians have the power of the purse. We spoke with them about what the college has and what the college needs. It was interesting to see the dynamic.”

Brown will earn his degree this May. He’s been selected a Newman Civic Fellow for the upcoming academic year. His career goal is public service. “As soon as I am able I want to get into politics. I want to be either a city councilor, an assemblyman or something. I feel the need to serve the American people. I learned a lot about myself when I was in Guantanamo. It really pushed me towards the need to serve.”

Feeling The Bern!

TOP OF STORY Maurice BrownOCC student Maurice Brown is paying attention to Presidential politics like never before. The 23-year-old Brooklyn native is a delegate to Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Brown was one of only six Sanders delegates chosen in New York State’s entire 24th Congressional district. How was he selected? “I went to a Bernie Sanders debate party and began talking with people. I liked who I met and liked that Bernie talked about the issues. He has a message that connects with the college-aged group.” A short time later Brown was asked to be a Sanders delegate.

Brown is no stranger to politics. He’s president of OCC’s Politics Club. He is also vice president of the College’s Black Student Union and a U.S. Army Reservist. He’s on track to graduate in December 2016 with a degree in Communication. “I’ve really enjoyed my time at OCC. In my role with the Politics Club I get to meet local politicians. I enjoy meeting people and speaking with them. Education is really about what you do with it and who you meet.”

Brown has both the ability to speak in public and to make people laugh. He’ll have the chance to put both of those skills on display this weekend. Sunday, February 28 Brown will be the master of ceremonies for a Bernie Sanders fundraiser from 4-9 p.m. at Mac’s Bad Art Bar in Mattydale. The fundraiser is titled “Bust a Gut for Bernie.” On Monday, February 29 at 7 p.m. Brown will be performing his stand-up comic routine in the Recital Hall of Academic II on the OCC campus. Brown is a regular on the stand-up comic circuit. He’s performed locally at Funny Bone, Funk N’Waffles and in the Rochester area. He says his success as a comic depends on starting strong. “You have to get the crowd to like you immediately. If you don’t have them in the first five seconds you’re in trouble. The key is to practice a lot. He who fails to prepare prepares to fail. You have to rehearse and you have to be confident.”