Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels

Brown, Alfonso - Northwest ORCA

Oral history interview with Tacoma resident Alfonso “Al” Brown conducted by dindria barrow on November 3, 2022. In this interview, Al shares his philosophies on life as well as the key tenets that have helped him survive failure, pain, suffering and homelessness to ultimately find that hope is what is needed to transform your own life as well as others’. Al talks about his work in the community and how he plans on making a difference bringing collegiate theory into real-world practice. Al has be
Photo by Teddy Joseph on Pexels

CPTC alumnus overcomes odds to earn doctoral degree

Al Brown plans to use his research and lived experience with homelessness to help others.

The number of individuals who go on from a four-year college or university to get a doctorate is small. The number who reach that pinnacle from a two-year institution is even smaller. When the challenges of homelessness are part of the equation, the achievement should simply be unattainable.

But Al Brown doesn’t believe in impossible. Despite his lack of housing throughout most of his college career, the
Photo by Ted McDonnell on Pexels

A Journey to Success with the Unstoppable Al Brown

How many people do you know that have successfully pursued a bachelor’s and master’s degree while struggling with being homeless and working several jobs? Meet Al.

Al’s grandma knew he had something special inside of him and needed more in life then what a small town in Georgia could offer. She saw his drive and budding curiosity growing daily. Al had been living with his grandma as his mom had him at just 14 years old and could not provide for him as well. When Al turned 14, his grandma decide

Clover Park Graduate Reaches New Heights Despite Lacking Home

Al Brown is the definition of an inspiration, though he wouldn’t say that about himself.

“Not a lot of people stay the course —I’m not the norm, but I’m not special,” Brown said. “Our circumstances affect our choices, but you have a choice.”

Last month, Brown graduated from The Evergreen State College with a bachelor’s degree after previously transferring from Clover Park Technical College. What makes him unique among the hundreds of similar graduates is the fact that he spent the last several
Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Pexels

Homeless but not Hopeless; Riding the Bus to a Better Future

The bus is a means to a better life for Al Brown. Brown is homeless but not hopeless. He has been homeless for years but that has not determined his outlook on life. Brown is a college student who depends on the bus to move him towards a better future. Whitney Henry-Lester brings us Al’s dispatch alongside Seattle PI photographer, Grant Hindsley. Grant spent the day with Al and captured his commute in photos.

Click here for more What’s the Flux?: Commuter Dispatch stories.

From Football to the Classroom

Al Brown took his biggest disappointment and turned it into something positive.

Brown had it all figured out. The running back/linebacker for Central Washington University’s football team in 1992-1994 dropped out of school to pursue a career in football.

He injured his leg during his first game on the semi-professional circuit. With his plan dashed, Brown entered the workforce as a barber but held on to a personal pact he made when he was 8 years old – he would try out for the Dallas Cowboys.