“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“Run.” A fellow volunteer sprinted while creatures crawled across the prison corridor.


Mouth agape, I ran through the connecting yard between the adult and youth units. Once we both reached the other side, she told me it happens every visit—the ruffling behind the trash cans usually meant food was being thrown into the garbage.

I never forgot my running sneakers again.

Becoming accustomed to evading rats was one thing, but we could never accept the sight of children in the adult prison, a place infamous for its violence and human rights abuses. It’s not fit for anyone, let alone teenagers. We offered tutoring and a sense of reprieve. In our sessions, they could be young again. They could be sad, they could be uncertain, they could just “be.” We would listen and encourage.

I want to see people fully. Beyond statistics. Beyond difficult stories. And in business, beyond profits. My goal is to challenge the status quo, particularly in our treatment of marginalized communities. These youth, and anyone we encounter, are humans with complex identities.

I will always seek that nuance and handle it with care—even if it means running from rats.

— Brooke-Logann Williams