woman leaning against a brick wall in a white jacket

A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:

On my visit late last year to Miami, I heard from Carlos Vazquez, the founder of Miami EdTech, about an effort to get people in the tech community to be “principal for a day.” There were almost no takers for the program — except for one young man, a developer working for Google.

That story made me curious. Who was this Randy Raymond?

So, I met him for breakfast. Vazquez had said Raymond was trying to bring a Google program for high schoolers to Miami, and I wanted to understand what was driving this young Black man who graduated from Harvard in 2018.

The answer slowly emerged.

The son of two Haitian immigrants, a civil engineer and a nurse, Raymond had grown up in the upper-middle class in Florida.

His father had pushed his family up the ladder, earning a graduate degree here in the United States. Raymond’s grandmother was like a third parent to the family, the caregiver while Raymond’s parents worked. And his mother was a connector, wise to the right programs and credentials. As a promising high schooler, Raymond participated in Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute.

When he got into Harvard himself, he founded a startup; it felt like the thing to do. But. “I wasn’t solving something that was real,” he said. “I was feeling this emptiness.”

He graduated, got a job at Google, and went to work in New York City. He was making a good salary and having a lot of fun. He loved Google.

But still – that nagging sense of something missing. In the pandemic, he shifted to remote work, and then shifted to working remotely from Miami.

Last year, his grandmother died.

“My grandmother was all about acts of service,” he said. For her, the service included unconditional love for her grandkids — and a lot of food. “If you weren’t eating, something was wrong.”

Raymond said he’d realized that he wanted his life to include acts of service. For him, that meant solving problems that were real, “small” in his verbiage, where he could see the outcome. That wasn’t unlike his grandmother’s acts of service, I pointed out: feeding grandchildren so that they grew up to have a keen awareness of what it’s like to be fulfilled.

Raymond is now researching and investigating how he could contribute to helping young people. “I need faith, purpose and meaning,” he said. “I need to find a way to serve that is fulfilling and that is authentic to me.”

That’s why he volunteered to be principal for a day, so he could keep learning how to best contribute.

This story was corrected to reflect how Randy Raymond came to volunteer for principal for a day.

This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.

A business journalist for 20 years, am the founder of Times of Entrepreneurship and the co-author of The New Builders.