My story starts in West Palm Beach, Florida. I was born to a family of immigrants that migrated to the United States of America to pursue a better life. After moving to Jacksonville, Florida, I attended Robert E. Lee High School, recently renamed Riverside High. While studying at Lee, I faced many challenges that eventually led me to be temporarily homeless and simultaneously pursue my education despite the obstacles that never seemed to stop coming.
At that time, I kept my clothes in the trunk of my friend’s car, slept under a bridge, attended school after working until 3 AM, went to wrestling practice to release the built-up tension, and repeated this cycle over and over again every day. As a young person with an intense desire to succeed, this taught me invaluable lessons about perseverance that were often preached to me by my mother (who at that time had no high school education) and my father (who had to give up on his dreams of attending college to work a trade and support his family).
Based on the cards I was dealt, I could never have imagined the reality I have been fortunate enough to experience over the past three years. In 2019, I spoke at the White House three times along with my classmates and shared my perspective on the need to shift the world’s view of “at risk” individuals to “at hope.”
In addition, I took the time to learn about cryptocurrencies and the stock market, which helped me generate enough funds to cover my daily expenses and fund my entrepreneurial ventures. Thanks to the support of the EVAC Movement team and mentors that I found along the way, I have been fortunate enough to:
- Be a contributing writer to a book published by the Harvard Review
- Serve on the Mayor’s Youth Council and be a voice for Jacksonville youth
- Develop an NFT project that raises money for “at hope” youth (DreamCrazyJits)
- Launch an educational initiative in collaboration with the City of Jacksonville that will teach Jacksonville residents about digital currencies and electronic payments
- Work hand in hand with the Promising People team as an advisor and liaison on behalf of individuals like yourself who are starting a new chapter of life.
Although this is not a comprehensive list of the blessings that have come my way, I hope that it serves as inspiration for you, especially if you are wrestling with self-doubt and unworthiness, because I personally know how that feels. Therefore, as you embark on this journey of further education through Promising People’s Ability to Benefit Program, I urge you to remember that your story is your secret weapon, and education is the mechanism that can unlock your untapped potential.
Once you pass the Accuplacer Test, you will be eligible to qualify for Pell grants that can be used to pay for your education. You can use these funds to pursue a college education or vocational training.
With that being said, remember that you are not “in the fight” alone and that there are genuine people cheering you on as you pave the way and write your new story. You are not defined by the actions of your past or the circumstances into which you were born. Education is the ultimate equalizer, and I hope you consider enrolling in this program so I can hear your success story.
I’ll see you on your road to your authentic self.