Source: BBC News
“Don’t let your circumstances define who you are.”
Just one piece of advice 31-year-old entrepreneur Freddie Figgers would like to pass on to others. When he was eight years old, he asked his father, Nathan, about the circumstances of his birth, and the reply was unforgettable.
“He said, ‘Listen I’m going to shoot it to you straight, Fred. Your biological mother, she threw you away, and me and Betty Mae, we didn’t want to send you through foster care and we adopted you, and you’re my son.'”
Freddie had been found abandoned as a newborn baby next to a dumpster (a large rubbish container) in rural Florida.
“When he told me that, I was like, ‘OK I’m trash,’ and I felt unwanted. But he grabbed my shoulder and he said, ‘Listen, don’t you ever let that bother you.'”
Nathan Figgers was a maintenance worker and handyman and Betty Mae Figgers, a farmworker. They lived in Quincy, a rural community of about 8,000 people in North Florida, and were in their 50s when Freddie was born in 1989.
So far as Freddie was concerned, Nathan and Betty Mae were heroes and great role models.
“I saw my father always helping people, stopping on the side of the road helping strangers, feeding the homeless,” he says. “He was an incredible man, and for them to take me in and raise me, that’s the man I want to be like.”
He was already fond of tinkering with the collection of radios, alarm clocks or VCRs that Nathan had accumulated, and the broken Mac now became the focus of his attention. After about 50 attempts, he says, the computer finally switched on – and at this moment Freddie says he knew that he wanted to spend his life working with technology. He was 12 when his skills became noticed by others. At an after-school club, while other children were playing in the playground, Freddie set to work repairing broken computers in the school’s computer lab. From then on, Freddie spent time every day after school mending this pile of computers, for $12 (£9) an hour.
A couple of years later, a coding opportunity arose. Quincy needed a system to check the city’s water pressure gauges, and a company had quoted $600,000 (£432,500) to develop a computer program. Freddie remembers that the city manager called out, “Hey, Freddie’s a computer dork, he could probably help with this.”