The early part of my life was very difficult.
I was living with my mom and she was struggling. I mean, everything you can imagine. She had an abusive boyfriend, that type of stuff. We were in and out of houses. We were homeless for quite a bit.
I reached a point when I was like, “This is not for me.” I was nine years old and I decided to live with my grandparents, which is pretty impressive to make such a big decision so young. I still look back on that and I’m like, “Man, I can’t believe I said that.” So I went with my grandparents, and from that point on I started to live more in the middle class.
But my mom had kept us out of school a lot. So, I really started learning at the age of 10 or 11. I knew how to read and write, but a lot of people were smarter because they had stayed in school and learned. So that was kind of struggle. You get the feeling you’re not intelligent enough to do what you want to do.
When I got older, I got a job in the electrical field. I was basically an apprentice -- working on anything from outlets in houses to wiring entire buildings. But I pretty much hated it. I just did it because it was like, “Hey, I’m this old, I need to get a job.”
My Pops told me I should try JWM. I'm really not big on being part of programs. I'm more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, but I was looking to break out of the electrical field and didn't have a lot of connections.
What's been amazing is that because of JWM’s help, and the opportunities that I’ve gotten, I've been able to build my confidence. That was the greatest barrier I had. I didn't have firm confidence in my intelligence. I underestimated how smart I could be. How smart I actually am.
People say not to strive for validation from external things, but you have to achieve something in life to feel good about yourself. You have to be spiritually well rounded, and you also have to have things you’re proud of. Once you start to move up in life, you’re like, “Hey, I must be doing something right if I could do this type of job. Man, I can do anything. I did this!”
So I think that’s what’s changed the most -- how I feel about myself. I just see myself in a more positive light. I’m much prouder of myself. I feel infinitely more confident.
And I'm performing well in school. I’m an undergrad at UWM, studying healthcare administration. Eventually, I want to get my MBA.
Before, I was doing something I hated. Now I love what I do. I want to take it further and further, as far as I can. I think JWM was the catalyst for great things to come.