Board Spotlight: Orville Brown!

 An image of Board Member Orville Brown standing in front of a bookshelf. The image has the following quote from Orville: "As a child growing up in the British Caribbean, it was instilled in me and my siblings  that reading and communication were critical in our development. We spoke the dialect “Patios” at home but in school we were taught English. We were rewarded when we able to spell a word or read a book.

An image of Board Member Orville Brown standing in front of a bookshelf. The image has the following quote from Orville: "As a child growing up in the British Caribbean, it was instilled in me and my siblings  that reading and communication were critical in our development. We spoke the dialect “Patios” at home but in school we were taught English. We were rewarded when we able to spell a word or read a book.

Orville Brown is one of our Board Member who came to us through our merger with Rolling Readers. He is a Senior Research Scientist at Ferro Corporation, and he has 14 patents in the microelectronic field. He received his undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Hunter College of the City of University of NY and his graduate degree in Chemistry from Columbia University. He is also involved in Habitat for Humanity Global Village.

We are so happy to have Orville on our Board! Now, let's hear from him!

What was your relationship with literacy as a child?

As a child growing up in the British Caribbean, it was instilled in me and my siblings  that reading and communication were critical in our development. We spoke the dialect “Patios” at home but in school we were taught English. Reading, writing, spelling/ pronunciation were separate courses which were taught from kindergarten through third grade. We were rewarded when we able to spell a word or read a book.

When was the first moment you fell in love with reading?

I actually fell in love with reading when I was about 7 years old. I was in a school play and I had to remember my lines of a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson – “The Moon”.

How do you use literacy in your day-to-day life?

The “everyday routine” such as traveling, communicating (such as sending an email or a text) or reading the news or a technical journal requires some degree of literacy.

What impact would being illiterate have on your life? Would you have the same profession if you couldn’t read?

Without being literate I could not be in my field. First it requires being literate to complete one’s degree and then as researcher, I have to be able read and write reports, technical journals, patents, standard operating procedures, solve technical problems/challenges and all the other requirements that come with my career. I would not have the same career—I would not be hired.

What is your favorite book and why?

My favorite book is Alice Walker’s, “The Third Life Of Grange Copeland.” The story encompasses love, determination (never give up), hope, and redemption.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

There was a book series that I was addicted to as a child. The Hardy Boys Series by ghost writer Franklin Dixon (Stratemeyer Syndicate). Joe and Frank Hardy's mystery solving skills kept me up late under the covers as an 8-year-old kid.

My favorite single book was “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain. This book introduced me to a different America than I envisioned it to be growing up in Jamaica. The ordeals, the trails, his relationship with Jim and the excitement of Huck Finn’s journey down the Mississippi got me hooked.

Do you have a favorite memory relating to reading?

Yes—As a 5th grader in a small class in New York we were each given a paragraph of Joseph Conrad’s, “Heart of Darkness” to read aloud. When it came to my turn, I was stuck, I completely went blank for about a minute. It felt like eternity. I was able to pull myself out, recover, and read my paragraph. But, I still remember that feeling!

What made you join the Words Alive board?

I grew up in a home where volunteering and giving back to the less fortunate was a requirement for all. I attended a Rolling Reader’s function and got hooked and wanted to be a part of its mission. In addition my kids were avid readers and are successful in their careers because of that. I wanted others to have the opportunity that I had and my children had because of that childhood reading experience.

What has been your favorite aspect of being a Words Alive board member?

Seeing the positive results of Words Alive's efforts.