Primavera Platicas Podcast – Episode 2 (Bobby Burns)

In Episode 2, Primavera CEO Tisha Tallman interviewed Bobby Burns, a former participant at the Men’s Shelter and internationally-acclaimed author, reporter, motivational speaker, and educator.

You can also listen to each episode on Spotify here:

Bobby Burns Bio:

Internationally acclaimed author, reporter, motivational speaker, and educator, Bobby Burns has been inducted into the Phoenix College Alumni Hall of Fame. His diary about his experience fighting for his life, Shelter: One Man’s Journey from Homelessness to Hope, has received critical acclaim with chapters appearing in college textbooks in the United States and abroad. Drawing from his own personal experiences as they relate to homelessness, the absence of his biological father, scholastic struggles, and various other obstacles, Burns has allowed his life to be an open “book.” He has spoken to thousands of high-risk high school and college students by improving their study habits and increasing their retention rates. His “What Smart Know about College” motivational speeches continue to receive rave reviews from students, college instructors and college administrators.

Bobby’s commitment to developmental education has been long standing. It begins in special education during high school as a student. In the Navy when a recruiter told him he could only become a cook, not a journalist. At Phoenix College his first developmental education writing tutor quit on him claiming he would never be able to write a college paper. Today, Bobby’s passion to remedy and reverse the crippling effects adverse societal influences have on young college students, is an ever-ending drive. Bobby Burns is the embodiment of hustle, get-up-and-go, purpose, and success.

Bobby Burns arrived in Tucson, Arizona, with a few dollars in his pocket and no place to live. Without family, without a job, he had nowhere to go but a homeless shelter. How did a college graduate find himself so close to life on the streets? In a voice that is startling for its simplicity and utter honesty, Burns tells the story of how he slipped into homelessness, how he learned what it means to live in a place where nobody will notice if you disappear, and how he emerged to tell his story. Bobby’s diary of 41 days without a home brings readers into the world of a homeless shelter. Shelter is filled with the sights and sounds of homelessness. Shelter life is patterned by meals provided by church volunteers, lines for soap and clean towels, the repeated meticulous washing of hands by an obsessive-compulsive resident, the rare pleasure of a fried chicken dinner, and the illicit smell of marijuana within the shelter. Burns witnesses the residents’ struggles with drugs, alcohol, and disability, and he wonders daily whether he will have the courage to emerge from this life. Bobby’s diary expresses the full range of emotions of a homeless person: anger, self-pity, pride, humility, shame, depression, and optimism. These are not contradictions; taken together they represent the real feelings provoked by homelessness. But with rare inner courage, Bobby stokes the fires of hope within himself, marking the days in his journal to keep himself from sliding deeper into a spiral of despair. Bobby confronts his own stereotypes about the homeless and learns firsthand what it means to struggle daily for survival and for dignity. He learns greater courage and he learns greater kindness. He is given food and a bed for 41 days, but he finds shelter on his own, deep within himself.


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