Housed: California Men’s Colony, San Luis Obispo
I found my passion and purpose in life by being part of a youth diversion program in prison. When I was asked to get involved, I really hesitated. I didn’t like public speaking. I felt it wasn’t for me. With much persistence and persuasion, I decided to be in the program. A supposed friend asked me to join, yet didn’t believe I would be an asset to the group. To be honest, I was offended and hurt for two reasons, one because he was my brother in Christ and two, he said it behind my back. Little did he know, I love challenges. If it wasn’t for that, I wouldn’t have found my purpose in life. At first I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I believe when you are called to do something great you will face opposition for the impact that is to come. My thought process was to receive my certificate and jump to the next class. Little did I know, it was a never ending class with no certificates. Three years in and I was feeling like I wasn’t making an impact. I was very close to dropping out until Kyle, 15 and Tim, 16 walked into my life. Following my presentation, the Probation Officer thanked me and said I had an impact on them. I will never forget that feeling. To know my labor was not in vain, I felt rich. At 25, I ended up being one of the best speakers. As a youth offender, I was able to reach the youth. They always asked for me, which was an honor. This is why I created Challenging and Helping Adolescents Navigate Change by Educating for Success, CHANCES, I want to continue to give back to the youth. They are our future. Kobe Bryant said, “Our youth tends to get the short end of the stick in terms of the investment that is poured into them. Instead, it should be the opposite because they are our future.” Upon my release I want to have my own youth ministry. I can empathize with the youth because of what I lacked and experienced growing up. I just wish there was a program like mine that could have reached out to me and shared their experiences so I wouldn’t have come to prison.