Islam’s Story

Islam writes: “What if your dreams were demolished? You are the only one who could save the dreams. At that point you pretend to be a superhero and want to make changes. Yet, you have to overcome many challenges and strive to reach that goal.

My father was an intelligent and motivated man. He always wanted to become a college professor, but he couldn’t attend college. As the oldest son out of the nine siblings in the family, he decided to forget about his dreams and do something for his family. He left his motherland and traveled all the way to the United States in order to earn some money and help out his family. . He was only seventeen at the time and all of his dreams were shattered. My mother’s dreams were to be educated and get a good job, but she never got that opportunity. She didn’t have the proper education to get married to a higher educated man. Thus, she got married to my father and traveled to the United States. That was the end to all of her dreams of being educated and doing something prolific. A year later, I was born.

My parents weren’t familiar with the education system. They didn’t know what the best school was or what approach to take in order to guide me properly. I didn’t have family members or friends in the United States to guide me. Everything was going fine up until high school. Since, we came from low income families, we basically lived in hell. The neighborhood we lived in had many gangs and we would watch elders perform illegal activities. While watching them we follow their behaviors and try to act like the elders.

My high school was big and was full of cliques. I ended up getting involved into one of these cliques and could not get out of it. We were teenagers who were immature, we followed each other. We did not have the judgment to make good decisions. We were doing everything we wanted to do without thinking about our future. Before I knew I fell into a trap. I made horrible decisions and all the wrong choices. Education didn’t really matter to us at all. For three years of my life I been gangbanging, smoking drugs and not going to school at all. It was devastating. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. The easy way was to just drop out, sell drugs or work a nine to five and make minimal money. There were times I would stay up all night and get so depressed till the point where I just wanted to end my life. I had so much pain inside me and today when someone looks into my eyes, he or she can see the same pain. I missed out on a lot of knowledge that I should have received, but the last year of high school I tried my best to recover from my loss and brought my grades up again.

I truly realized my passion in life when I had my first job experience. I was only fourteen years old and applied for Summer Youth. I got selected in the lottery and chose Children of the City site to work for as an assistant tutor. On my first day at work I met two young kids. They were both brothers and I saw something in them that were the mirror images of me and my younger brother which made me want to help them out much more. Christopher who was in high school just like me but a freshman had troubles with his algebra regents which I was great at. We both helped each other out. I helped him study for the regents and he helped me out finding my true purpose in life. I tremendously changed as a person and feel a lot more responsible.

I just recently have been accepted to colleges. I hope to become the first college graduate in my family and will continue to pursue a career. I have been working with kids at Children of the City for the past year. As I have been working with them, each day I realize that I want to help them get more opportunities. I want the kids to have an opportunity to improve academically and mentally from a person who went through struggles. Most of the kids are from low income families and their lives are something I can relate to because I grew up the same way they are growing up. It’s giving me the chance to redeem myself and guide them to a better path than my own path. I feel like a road lamp which guides kids to the right way so that they will never have to struggle.”