Stay Focused. Stay Free

“The messages are quite simple:  if you are consistently productive with a positive attitude, you’ll have a healthy mind, body, spirit, and lifestyle. And if you disassociate with negativity and illegal activity, you’ll avoid jail or prison,” Latif explained when asked what “Stay Focused. Stay Free” means.

Ex-criminal turned children’s author Latif Torres-Robinson walks what he talks. From striving to become a contributing citizen to dedicating his heart to children, the 33-year old God-fearing man has reinvented himself.

“In better words, being at liberty physically and mentally is the key to absolute freedom,” he added.

“Positive thinking leads to positive change,” Latif speaks first-handedly. Although Latif’s work is limited, he still manages to exemplify how to “Stay Focused, Stay Free.”

“I had a lot to learn. Before I was transferred to prison, my uncle gave me some great advice:  ‘Make that place your university,’” the high school dropout claims. Reading and writing at a sixth grade level, Latif did not allow it to limit his goals. After months of daily studying, Latif passed his GED on his first attempt. “My teachers always told my mother that I’ll never get my high school diploma nor my GED, but I did. I defeated the odds against me. It was then that I knew I could do ANYTHING I set my focus on,” he said with a smile. He then went on to add a custodial maintenance trade, theology courses, carpentry, and barbering credentials.

“This is a funny story. There was an open barber position in my unit, and I need a job badly. I had no barber experience, so I asked one of the old barbers to teach me. Instead of the old barber mentoring me, he told me to practice on every guy who wants a baldhead. I listened and spent my rec time cutting baldheads. A week later I was interviewed by a sergeant and she gave me the job. Years afterward that old barber’s customers were in my chair,” Latif bragged followed by a laugh.

As Latif Torres-Robinson continues to excel academically, he also seeks knowledge of self.

“I question both myself and others. Who are you? How can I improve? In what areas do I lack? What do I need to change? After I received some constructive criticism and feedback, I work on making adjustments and improvements to become a better person,” Latif proudly confessed. It was that which began Latif’s transformation.