An Interview with Kalim Hill (Summer 2014)

Kalim in 2010

Kalim Hill, 2010 Photo by Steve Wagner

A current Theatre Major at Cleveland State University, poet, MC, hip hop artist and now a STEP intern, Kalim credits the STEP program for his collegiate work ethic: “STEP enhances and grows your skills; confidence, speaking up, taking on crazy tasks in a small amount of time. STEP genuinely expects greatness out of you and it really prepared me for the real world that expects you to do things when it wants you to and in a specific way. I don’t even believe, had I not been in STEP, I would have been ready for college. When I walked into STEP, I was Kalim on a 5 out of 10 scale in confidence. Now people tell me, “Kalim, your voice carries.” I have never been pushed as hard as I was in STEP.”

Kalim went on to share a few discoveries he made while participating in STEP: “It was pretty intense. Especially with the training and how much they actually expect from the students. I came to find out that’s exactly what the beauty and significance of STEP is. As a youth, you’re asked to do ginormous tasks that some adult performers may never experience. It was a huge eye opener. Art just has to happen. And it’s terrifying! We may not know what is going to happen, but we know that in tough times, greatness is made. And once it’s over, you think, “Wow. We actually did that?

On his decision to return to STEP as an instructor, Kalim explained: “STEP, the STEP instructors, Chris, Raymond… they have given me so much. It’s one of the most beautiful things to see a young person, who is covered up, molded through trash and what society has put over them, and you see them blossom into this amazing person and artist over a summer! I’m already seeing students evolve and they haven’t even realized it yet. They get to go back out into the real world and they’ll be able to handle it better because of what they learned at STEP and at CPT. I want to instill innovation in them. YOU can create. YOU can work hard to become something. It doesn’t have to necessarily be on a big stage, but you will be on the great stage. This work creates greatness out of people.”

When finishing up the interview, Kalim said there was one more important piece of information he needed to share. “I’m from poverty. I lived in public housing, actually down the street. But STEP showed me that’s not who I am. I’m a leader and it taught me to start acting like a leader. I found out that there are people that believe in me, like Chris, who want me to move in the right direction. The only person who wasn’t fighting for me to go down the right road was me. I learned humility. And I believe, had I not discovered the STEP program, my behavior would have resulted in negative outcomes.  Every single summer in STEP, I dedicated myself to something. Had I not picked up the habit of learning how to speak from my diaphragm, maybe I would have picked up the habit of selling drugs. STEP, Chris, and Raymond opened my mind to a completely new world. I have this yearning, this desire, to go out and explore the world and create. I look back at my old neighborhood and I am grateful to have been exposed to so much in my short time on this earth. There’s so much more in this life, so much to be discovered. And CPT taught me that.

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