Dear Dr. Archer,
I'm 20 years old and live in Texas. I've always been a good student, but when I was a freshman in high school my parents began to struggle financially. I realized I'd have to pick up the slack. I dropped out of school and started doing manual labor.
I worked a year and I couldn't take it anymore, so I enrolled in school again, but this time it was a no-go. I couldn't keep up, and I dropped out again. Around the same time I was associating myself with who I thought were good people.
Eventually I began to pick up bad habits. By the time I was 17 I was in jail for adult possession. One week before the end of my probation, my friend was stopped for expired tags. He had marijuana in the front seat, and since I was there and on probation, I was arrested, violating everything I had done.
I couldn't believe what had happened. I was now 18, unemployed, uneducated with two possession strikes. I decided to act. I enrolled to get my GED, had my approval letter within three months, but was struggling to get money together. An old friend told me about Youth Build. I called, and the next day I was in!
Youth Build is a program for low income dropouts. Monday through Thursdays, from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. we would train with Houston Habitat for Humanity, learning the trade. From 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. we would go to GED school, and finally from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. we would attend construction classes so we could also earn National Center of Construction Education and Research, NCCER, certification.
Within a month I was one of the first two students to take and pass the GED test. I never failed a test in construction school, and three months after I got my GED I also obtained my NCCER certification. I became so good at my job that I became the youngest superintendent assistant.
I also received a grant to buy professional portfolios for my fellow classmates. In addition, I was given the opportunity to join other young leaders in Hershey, Pennsylvania that were from different areas throughout the U.S. to discuss dropout awareness and prevention.
The entire experience changed my life. When I returned to Texas, I was determined to succeed and to help everyone I could reach the top as I had. I began attending GED school again when needed, tutored my classmates and kept them motivated. During this process, my new brothers began motivating me to go to college.
In February, 2011, I enrolled into HCC and am currently in pursuit of an Associate's Degree in Construction Management. From time to time I stop by my old GED school to talk to the adults thinking that the odds are stacked too high. I am living proof that you can come from the bottom and crawl your way to success.
Thank you so much for a wonderful, uplifting letter! Many people would have continued a life of crime, seeking an easy way to make money, while further ruining their lives in the process, rather than taking the road less traveled.
Congratulations on making such a success of yourself. You are an inspiration to all. Determination, hard work, and reaching your lowest point, can sometimes jar a person back to reality. You should be very, very proud of your accomplishments. Usually the harder we work for something, the more precious it becomes.
Something else, Jonathan, you display what type of a man you are now by not forgetting where you came from. That you still stop by your GED school speaks volumes about your unselfish, generous nature. Congratulations and best of luck to you in the future.