My earliest memory was when I was 5 years old. I was living with my aunt because my mom and I had nowhere else to go. While we lived there, she regularly did drugs. Not too long after we moved in with my aunt, she put us out on the streets. This made me go stay with my other aunt.  My mom stayed with her new boyfriend. Things got worse for me.

The money my mom sent me I never saw because my aunt spent it on beer and drugs.

My life at my aunt’s house involved whippings for no reason, my uncle hitting me on top of my head, making my nose bleed, and being jacked up against the wall by my neck. I never liked my aunt’s son because he raped me.

I never started to like my life until I moved with my mom to Plano when I was in the 5-6th grade. We lived in a motel. During this time, my mother had my little brother. I sued to have to take days off from school a lot to watch him. At 11 years old, I was playing the part of a father to my little brother.

I knew all along that I would need an education to get me out of the life my mom kept giving me.. My mom’s employer stopped giving her hours so we moved back to Dallas. This was the point that my mom started back on drugs. The apartments we could afford to stay in were not in a good part of town. Within the first week of moving there, I got jumped by 3 grown men, heard gun shots every night, was threatened with a gun by a girl over a basketball, and was constantly nervous that a bullet would fly through my window.

A family friend took my in so that I could attend Plano schools again. This is when I finally saw my life taking a turn for the better.

I feel that education is the only way out for me and the only way that I can turn my life around for good. After I graduate with my degree, the most important goal I see is to have a stable home and to take good care of my little brother so that I can provide him with the necessities that I was given growing up. My little brother is my heart and drive to stay focused.

I sit and cry sometimes because of all the things that have happened but it makes me more determined to reach the opportunities that are in front of me now.

J. H., Hendrick student