Although my family’s originally from Oklahoma, I was born and raised in Watts. As a kid, I felt unmotivated and out of touch with the world; it seemed as if I was just going through the motions of daily life with little regard for what it all meant.
This was especially true for me at school where – no matter what I did, no matter how much my mom tried to help me – I failed to make that connection, to focus on my work or to develop any interest in learning.
Then at the age of 18, I lost my mom to cancer and everything I’d ever known and come to rely on was suddenly gone. The reality of the situation hit me hard – emotionally, psychologically and financially – I needed to find a way to survive and finishing school was no longer an option.
Four difficult years later, my girlfriend Jennail told me about an accelerated program called South Los Angeles YouthBuild offered by United Way partner Coalition for Responsible Community Development, which would allow me to earn those missing credits and graduate high school.
Once there, I showed up for class every single day, gave 110 percent on every assignment and honestly enjoyed every minute of it! On the evening of June 27, 2012, I received my high school diploma and I knew deep down that my mom was right there with me, cheering me on.
Check out this video from my graduation:
I’m headed to L.A. Trade Technical College this Fall to pursue an Associate’s degree in Computer Science and I can hardly wait to use the leadership skills and career training I obtained at CRCD to build and operate my very own computer and software engineering firm!
Aside from securing the freedom and financial independence I’ve been searching for, I’ll finally be in a position to do something positive, to give back to my community and most of all, to make my mom proud.