Gonzaga student, 17, pens self-published book thanking family for guidance

A high school senior at Gonzaga College High School in D.C. explores the question of why some kids achieve while others are held back in his new book.

Duane “Ben” Sylvestre, a 17-year-old senior at Gonzaga College High School writes in his self-published book, “My Momma Made Me Do It,” that loving parents have guided him through life so far and helped him achieve. He said he’s learned so much thanks to his mom’s relentless ambitions for him.



Sylvestre is no stranger to WTOP. When he was an eighth grader he was one of the winners of the WTOP 2018 Junior Reporter Contest.

“My Momma Made Me Do It” — Kid’s Book on Mom’s Lessons

“I was nervous about just entering, and I felt like it would be a waste of time if I didn’t win. And, that was just a very closed-minded way of going into it, because there’s always the possibility always that chance. And my mom saw the bigger picture and made me do it, essentially,” Sylvestre said.

“She always believed in me and always will … she’s always trying to help me, to push me to do more and that’s one of the reasons why I Iove her so much.”

At school, he’s a member of the varsity water polo team. He also participates in theater and sings. Chemistry and African American history are among his favorite subjects.

His learning has also come, thanks to his Trinidadian family, in what the family calls Trini Extra Lessons. Those are extended family get-togethers which include education as well as partying and socializing.

“I’m truly blessed to be a part of the Trini Extra Lessons and it’s not just strictly education, we also do life skills such as cooking and cleaning and we learn about politics,” Sylvestre said.

The young author said the Trini Extra Lessons also helped him learn business and science.

Ben said the take-away lesson from his book is to never be afraid of trying to succeed. He shares in his book some of his mom’s simple advice such as: “Nothing in life is free. You must work for everything you want.”

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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