I come from a broken, small family that experienced poverty firsthand. I grew up without a father and with a mother who had a drug addiction and a criminal record. Because of that, my grandmother adopted me at the age of four. I developed attachment and trust issues, chronic depression and anxiety. In later years, my grandmother adopted three more of my siblings, but then she developed multiple sclerosis, a disease that attacks the nervous system and prohibits people from performing daily tasks such as eating, talking or walking. I became a third parent to my siblings. I grew up with strict rules and made rules for my younger siblings. I did whatever I could to keep my siblings on the right track and to provide for my family. So I didn’t exactly have the traditional childhood. The feelings that I developed when I was younger continued into my teen and adult life. At points in my life I would feel like giving up, have suicidal thoughts, self-harm and let other unhealthy habits to take over.
I was served by Communities In Schools in elementary school, and then got involved with them again my junior year of high school where I was involved in Project Success, a program that assisted me with getting into college by teaching me how to write a resume, apply to colleges, interview for a job, and more. I never realized the importance of CIS until I had the opportunity to experience my local affiliate’s College Bootcamp, a CIS summer program that takes recent high school graduates for an eight-week journey. This journey teaches CIS graduates not only college skills but life skills, allows former students to find themselves, and teaches them to let go and let go of whatever has been weighing them down. I fell in love with CIS and what it did for me and other students who didn’t think they had a chance at life. CIS helped me financially, mentally and emotionally, and my life would not be the same without them. After the College Bootcamp, I wanted to participate in more CIS events and volunteer work because I loved seeing the smiling face of someone we’re helping, so I joined my local affiliate’s alumni association. And through the alumni association I gained a family – one that I can always go to no matter the situation because we have trust and confident relationships with each other. After my freshman year of college at Texas State University, I applied to be a College Bootcamp leader, where I would mentor new CIS graduates. I got the position, and my life did a complete 180. I got to see a new side of CIS – how they make decisions on student care and how to become more involved in students’ lives. I was exhilarated to see the change that we, CIS, are doing for at-risk youth. We are giving them a chance to break free from being part of a statistic. The statistic that I continue to break the longer I use what CIS has taught me and gave me.
Through CIS I gained confidence, endurance, leadership skills, communication skills, and above all, I found a purpose and reason for why my life was the way it was. If I hadn’t lived the experiences I lived, I wouldn’t have been able to reach out and develop relationships with my mentees. I can empathize and sympathize well with others since I’ve had a lifetime experience in my 20 years. I can put myself in people’s shoes and see their side and where they are coming from. I want everyone to experience what I was given – a chance. A chance to become someone she strives to be, a chance to change her life for the better, a chance to help other students. And with the help of CIS, if I can help change one person’s life, everything I have done and experienced will be worth it.
Now I am in my second year of college at Texas State University, majoring in forensic anthropology and minoring in criminal justice. I plan on finding a career in crime scene investigation. I also am mentoring two former CIS students who attended the same Bootcamp I did. I recently moved into my first apartment with another CIS alumni. I am also trying to help my grandmother as much as I can whether it’s financially, watching my younger siblings while she is at doctor appointments or running errands for her. I am trying my best to maintain a functional and healthy lifestyle, and I believe I can achieve that with CIS by my side helping to guide the way.
– March 2017Tweet