Svante Myrick is living proof of the following adage: it's not how you start, but how you finish.
"We were very poor," said the Florida native of his early upbringing by his single mother. "I spent the first six months of my life in a homeless shelter."
Today, the 28-year-old tackles affordable housing and other issues as mayor of Ithaca, N.Y., where his election made him the state's youngest-ever mayor and the town's first mayor of color. The Cornell University grad was still in college when he ran for a council seat in the 35,000-resident town. He won.
Then, in 2012 at the age of 24, he was sworn in as the youngest mayor in the history of New York state. And then, in 2015, he won a reelection campaign. In fact, no one even tried to run against him.
"It's been a thrill," he said.
Indeed, being a public servant has its perks. To wit, Svante was invited to the White House as part of President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" initiative. He even describes the more mundane tasks of public stewardship as "so much fun."
"Someone will ask, `What are you working on?' And I'll say, `You should see our sidewalk program!'" he said, laughing.
The mayor loves to read (James Baldwin is a favorite author) and his playlist runs the gamut from Drake to Tupac.
He's grateful for his life and the opportunity to serve.
Said Myrick: "I had a hard luck story with a happy ending."
DESCRIBE YOUR WORK IN THREE HASHTAGS: #affordability #infrastructure #livability
FACT: Svante attended college with the help of scholarships and loans, and worked four jobs. At one point, he juggled gigs as a tutor and bouncer at a bar.