By Joel Hall
According to Clayton County Staff Attorney Yusef Poole, everybody has a story to tell.
For Poole, his story is one of choices, struggle, near-death experiences, and accomplishment.
Poole recently captured his life experiences in a motivational book entitled, "Road to Barrister: An Urban Monologue (A Lawyer's Nontraditional Story and Guide to Success)."
Published last month with BluewaterPress, LLC, the book recounts Poole's rise from being the oldest child of a single mother in New Haven, Conn., to becoming a student at Yale University, his trials in obtaining a law degree from the University of Connecticut Law School, and his successful battle with cancer.
Poole, 36, who has worked for the Clayton County legal department since 2007, said he grew up in a rough neighborhood in New Haven, where drug dealing was a common sight. He said matters were made worse at the age of four when his father and mother separated, which eventually led to him being responsible for two younger siblings, while his mother worked full time for the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company.
"It forced me to grow up very quickly," he said. "A lot of responsibility a child shouldn't have had, I had. Some of the responsibilities that were parental fell on me. I had to make sure they [his younger brother and sister] ate, did their homework, that type of thing."
Throughout the book, Poole recalls his good and bad decisions, which eventually led him to be a participant in Yale University's Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, a summer academic program for talented youths in the New Haven area. It was there that he was first introduced to the walls of one of the nation's oldest universities, as well as his potential, he said.
"I was hanging out with some of my friends in high school, and we were talking about where do you want to go to college," Poole said. "I said I wanted to go to Yale, and I basically got laughed out of the building. However, it actually happened."
By making good choices and participating in other youth academic programs, Poole went on to receive degrees from Yale University and the University of Connecticut Law School, eventually landing a position as a city staff attorney for his hometown of New Haven.
In the beginning of 2005, he moved to Atlanta to take a position in a private real estate development company. Six months after his move south however, he discovered he had lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
The book, Poole said, was mostly written in late 2005 and early 2006, when he experienced about eight months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments, loosing his hair in the process. All 18 chapters of the book begin with a quote meant to inspire readers, particularly teens, with the conviction that they can rise above their circumstances.
"I didn't know what was going to happen, so I thought I needed to memorialize my life in some way," Poole said.
"The point of the book is to assist others with similar backgrounds as mine in making good decisions. The message is strictly that there is nothing you can't overcome. Your parents, where you grew up ... there is nothing stopping you from achieving, but yourself."
The book is available for $15.95 at www.bluewaterpress.com, or www.yusefpoole.com.